Online help with mental health

A NEW online service will help doctors and psychologists diagnose patients with mental illness, according to a report on ABC News. The Black Dog Institute has created the mood assessment program (MAP), which allows patients to complete an online questionnaire about their symptoms. Doctors are not given access to patient answers, but receive an automatically generated report.

Cancer more deadly with HRT
A NEW study shows hormone treatment after menopause, already known to increase the risk of breast cancer, also makes it more likely that the cancer will be advanced and deadly, according to a report in the New York Times. The study, published in JAMA, involved the most commonly prescribed hormone replacement pill in the US, which contains oestrogens and a synthetic relative of progesterone. The findings add weight to recommendations that patients should try to stop HRT after 1–2 years.

Fish oil advice challenged
RESEARCH from the University of Adelaide has challenged advice that pregnant women should increase their fish oil intake, according to ABC News. The 5-year study of more than 2500 women at five maternity hospitals, published in JAMA, showed no significant difference in cases of postnatal depression or developmental outcomes of children born to women taking fish oil supplements containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

US malpractice claims on rise
THE pace of malpractice claims against US hospitals is picking up, according to a recent report from Aon Risk Solutions and the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, reported in the Wall Street Journal. The growth in the frequency of claims had been declining for several years, down to a 1.81% increase for incidents occurring in 2006. However, in the past 3 years the number of claims had increased, although it is not clear why.

Flu vaccine response defended
AUSTRALIA’S chief medical officer, Dr Jim Bishop, has defended the federal government’s response to the swine flu pandemic after the Opposition accused it of wasting money on doses not used, ABC News reports. The government spent more than $100 million buying 21 million doses of a vaccine. Dr Bishop said the initial decision to purchase 21 million doses was based on the best advice at the time.

Snoring damages brain
PEOPLE who snore are more likely to have shrunken brains and damaged arteries, according to a report in The Australian. One Australian study presented at the Australasian Sleep Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, is reported to show snorers who suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea have reduced grey matter.

Anticompetitive finding on anaesthetic work
A SYDNEY hospital has agreed to change the way anaesthetic work is allocated after being investigated for anticompetitive conduct, according to a report in The Australian. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission conducted the investigation into the practices of private anaesthetists based at St Vincent’s Private Hospital.

Diabetes drug investigated
BRITISH drug company GlaxoSmithKline has reported that its diabetes drug Avandia is under investigation by federal and state law enforcement officials in the United States, the Boston Globe reports. The announcement came less than a month after the Food and Drug Administration issued severe restrictions on the use of Avandia because of its links to heart attack. Regulators in Europe have pulled the drug off the market.

Boss resigns over health pay dispute
QUEENSLAND media have obtained a resignation letter by a senior Queensland Health boss, accusing the organisation of workplace bullying in its bid to fix payroll woes, according to a report in the Brisbane Times. Thousands of health workers have been incorrectly paid since a new payroll system was introduced in March. Queensland Health’s director of payroll and establishment services Alan McGraw resigned from his job, citing the continuing pay problems.

Salt intake remains static
AS Australian authorities consider slashing salt recommendations to even lower levels, the most comprehensive survey of salt intake in the US found consumption there had not changed in more than 40 years, despite the recent rise of low-sodium foods, according to a report in The Age. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found there was relatively little difference between the high and low ends of the salt intake spectrum, suggesting people naturally gravitate towards a similar amount of dietary salt regardless of changes in food processing.

Posted 25 October 2010

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