Trauma plan in question

Doctors say lives are being put at risk by a plan by the NSW health department to limit the number of hospitals allowed to treat seriously injured patients, according to the The Sydney Morning Herald. The report said the plan is now in disarray. Critics say some patients are now waiting too long to be seen and that the scheme is underfunded.

Disgraced surgeon put patients at risk
A decision to allow a disgraced surgeon to work in an emergency department unsupervised had potentially put patients in danger according to a Sydney Morning Herald report. St George Hospital sent a doctor to Shoalhaven Hospital in April 2007 despite knowing about serious complaints against him. The medical board had imposed the strictest supervision conditions on him in November 2005 after an urgent hearing into his clinical competency and ethical behaviour.

Epidural warning

Hospital doctors have been warned against keeping skin antiseptics on the same tray as epidural pain-relieving drugs. Antiseptic application must now be completed before injectable drugs are prepared, according to a statewide alert issued in response to a June epidural error at St George Hospital that left a woman with severe neurological injuries. According to the The Sydney Morning Herald, the advice is being circulated to all anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand. Anaesthetists must now directly select, prepare and administer all medications, as well as recording their actions in the patient’s notes.

Stroke treatment a lottery

Receiving the right treatment for a stroke has been described as a lottery in Australia by The Age (Melbourne)which reported the results of an audit of more than 3000 cases conducted by the Stroke Foundation that examined the treatment patients received, based on where they lived, which hospital they attended, and whether they received the right drugs. It found that less than half of the patients were admitted to a stroke unit in a public hospital that could deliver optimal care. This was much lower than other countries, such as Britain and Scandinavian countries, the Stroke Foundation said.

iPhone stethoscope app a hit

A new free iPhone stethoscope application (app) has proved popular with doctors in the UK. According to a Courier Mail (Brisbane) report more than three million of them have downloaded the app. The iPhone is pressed against the chest and picks up a heart beat with its built-in microphone. The user then shakes the iPhone to hear the last eight seconds of the recording and see a phonocardiograph display and a spectrogram. These can then be emailed to a specialist.

Dementia decline faster for active minds

A US study has found that those who regularly did puzzles, read, visited museums or even listened to the radio were better able to stave off dementia – but if dementia did hit them the decline was much more rapid. According to the study, reported by the ABC, highly active people were about 80% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared with people who were not highly active.

New test for TB

Scientists say they have found a new test for diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) in less than 2 hours, according to The West Australian. The researchers used it on 1730 patients with suspected TB and it successfully identified 98% of all confirmed TB cases and 98% of cases resistant to rifampicin, one of the main drugs used to treat the disease.

Sleep deprivation risk for mental illness

Young people who get less than 5 hours sleep per night have triple the chance of developing a mental illness compared with those who sleep for 8 or 9 hours, according to research on 20 000 Australians aged between 17 and 24 years reported by the ABC. Researchers pointed to electronic gadgets as contributing to the sleep problem. The study also linked sleep deprivation with cardiovascular disease and weight gain.

Brawl over caesarean

A child was born in Italy with suspected brain damage after two doctors attending his mother allegedly came to blows over her need for a caesarean as she went into labour. According to The Age, both doctors have been suspended, and the incident is the subject of four investigations.

Dengue fever affects Games

An outbreak of dengue fever in India has put the upcoming Commonwealth Games under a cloud, according to an ABC report. Six-and-a-half thousand people have contracted the disease and Indian and Malaysian athletes have been hospitalised with it.

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