Australia: Health Alert: 23 April 2012

Last Updated: 24 April 2012
Article by Michael Regos

JUDGMENTS

Victoria. Coroners Court

Finding - inquest into the death of Gayle Maree Johnson

Gayle Johnson's history, the deceased, included severe anorexia nervosa, alcohol misuse and depression. After seeing her condition, Dr Cavini GP recommended Ms Johnson immediately attend Wangaratta Hospital. She agreed to go the next day.

At triage, Ms Johnson was assessed as hypothermic, dehydrated and had a body mass index of 12.1. She refused to eat or drink. Dr Andrews attended her the next day at 12:45am. She wanted to go home and he directed her discharge. In evidence he stated he thought she would stay the morning. She was discharged but then found in the waiting room at 8:00am.

Once readmitted, Dr Bowmaker noted in her referral to the Austin Eating Disorders Unit that Ms Johnson was "cognitively impaired". Ms Johnson was seen by several doctors, stayed overnight but then wanted to leave. The consultant psychiatrist relied on a mental health assessment by a registered psychiatric nurse and Ms Johnson was discharged without examination by the consultant physician or psychiatrist. The management plan was to follow up in six days with a visit and referral to the Eating Disorders Unit. Ms Johnson died one to two days later.

The Coroner concluded that the first discharge did not pass a common sense test and the second had involved no consideration of whether Ms Johnson would survive six days. Ms Johnson should have been involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act 1986 (Vic) or provided with daily supervision if discharged. Expert support may have been able to persuade her to stay. Her death was due to complications of anorexia.

Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal

Chinese Medicine Registration Board v Whiter (Occupational and Business Regulation) [2012] VCAT 348 (27 March 2012)

The Chinese Medicine Registration Board (applicant) claimed that Mr Rowan Whiter (respondent), a Victorian registered Chinese medicine practitioner, had engaged in professional misconduct or unprofessional conduct under the Health Professions Registration Act 2005 (Vic) (Act).

The respondent claimed that the Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter because the relevant events had occurred in Tasmania, where registration was not a requirement.

The Tribunal considered that whether the Act had extra-territorial effect depended on whether:

  • Victorian Parliament had power to legislate with extra-territorial effect
  • Victorian Parliament had actually legislated to that effect in this case.

The Tribunal found that the relevant connection between Victoria and the external behaviour was sufficient because the purpose was the protection of the Victorian public. Also, it would be contrary to the purpose of the Act to hold that the same conduct is not relevant because it occurred in a different state.

The patient, FN, had multiple previous medical problems. The respondent became actively involved in FN's life; they started seeing each other socially and developed a close personal relationship. Eventually FN cancelled her appointments and saw another practitioner.

The Board argued that the patient was vulnerable, the respondent's conduct was intense and for three to four months' duration. The Tribunal accepted this and found professional misconduct within the meaning of the Act, as the respondent engaged in conduct that substantially fell short of the profession's standards. Even though the respondent had not renewed his registration, he was reprimanded.

LEGISLATION

Commonwealth

REPORTS

Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

20 April 2012 - More Choice, Easier Access and Better Care for Older Australians - Under landmark changes to the aged care system, more people will get to keep their home, and more people will get to stay in their home as they receive aged care.

18 April 2012 - Government responds to the Final Report of the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians - The Federal Government has issued its initial response to the Final Report of the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians.

18 April 2012 - Inala headspace Opens for Young People in South-East Brisbane - Young people living in Inala and surrounding areas will benefit from a new headspace service opened on 18 April.

Private Health Insurance Circulars

PHI 26/12 Private Health Insurance (Benefit Requirements) Amendment Rules 2012 (No. 2) - Change to Second Tier Eligible Hospitals

PHI 25/12 Amendment to the Private Health Insurance (Prostheses) Amendment Rules 2012 (No. 1)

Living Longer. Living Better - On 20 April 2012, the Prime Minister and Minister Butler unveiled a comprehensive package of reforms to build a better, fairer, more sustainable and more nationally consistent aged care system.

The May 2012 MBS files are now available for download

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

20 April 2012 - ACMD 2012/1 meeting resolutions - The 2012/1 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Medical Devices was held on 16 March 2012.

20 April 2012 - Australian Public Assessment Reports for prescription medicines (AusPARs) - Added Etanercept, Nevirapine, Normal immunoglobulin (human), SMOFlipid 20% / Aminoven 10% (with or without electrolytes) / glucose 42%, Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate / emtricitabine / rilpivirine.

18 April 2012 - Albumex (human albumin solutions) - CSL Biotherapies is recalling a batch of Albumex 4 due to the presence of ethylene glycol.

17 April 2012 - List of evaluated registered complementary medicines - The list of evaluated registered complementary medicines was updated to include two new products.

16 April 2012 - TGA warns consumers about the use of Burmese medicines - The Therapeutic Goods Administration is advising consumers not to purchase or use unproven products such as Burmese traditional powders.

16 April 2012 - Uniform recall procedure for therapeutic goods - Updated recall co-ordinators' contact details

14 April 2012 - MITCH TRH Modular Head (used in hip replacements) - product cancellation - The MITCH TRH modular head has been cancelled from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods and it cannot be used in Australia.

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

Draft clinical practice guideline for the management of borderline personality disorder

Public consultation on the revised draft A Guide to the Use of Australian Native Mammals in Biomedical Research

Australia. Private Health Insurance Administration Council

Circular 12/07 - 13 April 2012 - Upcoming Industry Education Seminars

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

18 April 2012 - COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - media release

17 April 2012 - Dental health of Indigenous children in the Northern Territory: progress of the Closing the Gap Child Oral Health Program (media release)

13 April 2012 - AIHW Access magazine no 32, April 2012 online (download as PDF)

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

15 April 2012 - Avoid Burmese traditional powders - Health Directorate advises avoiding the use of Burmese traditional powders at present, while an investigation continues.

Burmese Powders

New South Wales. Department of Health

Media releases

17 April 2012 - A New Ambulance Station for Cessnock

14 April 2012 - Health Warning to avoid Burmese traditional powders

Policy directive

Retrieval Handover (Adults) -PD2012_019-19/04/2012

Northern Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

Kon Vatskalis - NT Government Remains Committed to Maternity Services at Palmerston Hospital - The NT Government remains committed to providing safe maternity services at Palmerston Hospital - despite the Country Liberal Party scaremongering about the quality of service to be provided by Territory doctors, midwives and nurses.

Kon Vatskalis/Paul Henderson - Milestone For Palmerston Hospital With Early Works Beginning - The construction of the $110 million Palmerston Hospital took a significant step forward today with the commencement of water and sewage headworks, Chief Minister Paul Henderson said today.

South Australia. Department of Health

Media release

16 April 2012 - Protect yourself and others from the flu

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

19 April 2012 - Would Liberals Deny Requests for Advice-> - Minister for Health

19 April 2012 - Liberals Would Axe Essential Health Services-Minister for Health

19 April 2012 - A Wee Bit More Iodine For Much Better Health-Minister for Health

19 April 2012 - Quicker ambulance services for rural Tasmanians

18 April 2012 - Securing Health - Minister for Health

Victoria. Department of Health

19 April 2012 - At-risk urged on flu vax - Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Rosemary Lester has urged Victorians at risk of influenza to be immunised.

16 April 2012 - New vital medical equipment for Victorian hospitals - Victorian hospitals and patients will benefit from a $35 million funding boost to buy state-of-the-art replacement medical equipment.

April 2012 - Health Victoria - Read latest edition

Western Australia. Department of Health

Healthview Autumn 2012

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

18 April 2012 - Cancer Trends: Trends in Cancer Survival by Ethnic and Socioeconomic Group, New Zealand, 1991-2004 - This report presents new information on trends and inequalities in cancer survival for 21 cancers diagnosed in New Zealand over a 13-year period, from 1991 to 2004.

17 April 2012 - Guidelines for Implementing the Prohibition on the Display of Tobacco Products - These guidelines provide information to sellers of tobacco products to ensure that they understand the new obligations placed on them when the prohibition on tobacco displays comes into force.

United Kingdom. Department of Health

Nursing and Care Quality Forum outlines work to improve nursing care - The Nursing and Care Quality Forum, which aims to improve the quality of nursing care across all care settings, met Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today ... Read more -> - Nursing and Care Quality Forum outlines work to improve nursing care

School for Public Health Research launched - The new National Institute for Health Research School for Public Health Research has launched. It has a budget of Ł20 million over five years to undertake research into public ... Read more -> - School for Public Health Research launched

Tackling dementia: live discussion - Put your questions to Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia and other panelists in a live discussion on how we can improve services for people with dementia. Join from noon ... Read more -> - Tackling dementia: live discussion

Language checks for doctors included in consultation on role of responsible officers - Proposals to ensure the language competence of doctors have been put forward as part of a consultation launched today on regulations governing the role of Responsible Officers. Under the proposals... Read more -> - Language checks for doctors included in consultation on role of responsible officers

Consultation launched on standardised tobacco packaging - A UK-wide consultation seeking views on whether tobacco products should be sold in standardised packaging has been launched. The government is exploring whether action on tobacco packaging has the potential... Read more -> - Consultation launched on standardised tobacco packaging

Canada. Health Canada

Recommendations on Canadian Multiple Sclerosis research priorities

Australian Medical Association

20 April 2012 - Government delivers strong package for older Australians - but medical care is lacking - The Australian Medical Association (AMA) congratulates the Federal Government on its Living Longer Living Better plan to support older Australians, in particular the measures to assist them to live in their homes for longer, but is disappointed that the issue of access to quality medical care has not been properly addressed. AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said that the plan is a strong response to a policy area that has been long neglected, but the government should have gone the extra step of giving older Australians the comfort of knowing they could get access to their doctors at a time of life when they most need them.

19 April 2012 - AMA calls for improved support and supervision for IMG doctors - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton has written to Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek urging the Federal Government to fund extra specialised support and supervision for International Medical Graduate (IMG) doctors, especially those working in rural and regional Australia. The AMA recommends that new funding should be allocated to General Practice Education and Training, an organisation with the capacity and infrastructure to provide this additional support for IMG doctors working in general practice.

American Medical Association

Media release

18 April 2012 - American Medical Association Releases Online Physician Resource to Help Diagnose and Treat Patients with Eating Disorders - The American Medical Association has released an online training module to help primary care physicians better screen for and manage eating disorders.

© DLA Piper

This publication is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. It is not intended to be, and should not used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. DLA Piper Australia will accept no responsibility for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this publication.


DLA Piper Australia is part of DLA Piper, a global law firm, operating through various separate and distinct legal entities. For further information, please refer to www.dlapiper.com

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Authors
Michael Regos
 
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