Call to end mandatory reporting
AMA Queensland has called for the removal of the mandatory requirement for health practitioners to report colleagues’ medical conditions that could affect their performance, the Brisbane Times reports. President Gino Pecoraro called on Queensland Health Minister Paul Lucas to raise the issue as a priority at the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference. Dr Pecoraro said the number of health professionals seeking personal advice from the Doctors’ Health Advisory Service had halved since the legislation came into effect a year ago.

Traditional doctor model fades
THE traditional model of doctors hanging up their own shingles is fading fast in the US as more go to work directly for hospitals, the Wall Street Journal reports. The latest sign of the continued shift comes from a large Medical Group Management Association survey, which found that the share of responding practices that were hospital-owned last year hit 55%, up from 30% five years ago. Many doctors have become frustrated with the duties involved in practice ownership.

Family history trumps genetic tests
UNCOVERING all the diseases that lurk in the family tree can trump costly genetic testing in predicting what illnesses people are likely to face, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. A US study comparing which method best uncovered an increased risk of cancer helps confirm the value of a family health history. The research was presented at a meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

Overseas fertility treatment
AUSTRALIAN women are increasingly looking overseas to access donor eggs and fertility treatment and avoid tough restrictions on age, The Australian reports. Revelations that a 57-year-old gave birth to twins in Perth — making her the oldest mother to deliver children in Australia — have shocked several of the state’s IVF specialists, who must adhere to the strictest laws in the country, with it illegal to provide IVF to post-menopausal women in Western Australia.

Bateman writes to GPs
AUSTRALIA’S richest GP has written to nearly every doctor in the country to defend his business practices, according to a report in The Australian. In a five-page letter sent to about 45 000 doctors Dr Edmund Bateman said that “significantly less than 2%” of the 3000 or so doctors under contract with the company end up embroiled in a legal dispute. The letter is a response to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, which Dr Bateman is now suing.

Health concerns for military children
CHILDREN in military families are about 10% more likely to see a doctor for a mental difficulty when a parent is deployed than when the parent is home, the New York Times reports. In a study published in Pediatrics researchers said visits for mental health concerns, like anxiety and acting out at school, were the only kind to increase during deployment; while complaints for all physical problems declined. The study analysed the health records of 642 397 children aged 3–8 with parents in the military.

Laptops harm sperm
LAPTOP computers may be damaging male fertility because they overheat men’s scrotums according to new research reported in The Age. A study in the journal Fertility and Sterility measured the temperature of 29 men’s scrotums while they used laptops on their knees. It found that when the men sat with their legs together and did not use a lap pad, it took 11 minutes for the computer to increase scrotal temperature by 1 degree — enough to damage sperm production.

Death rate declines
AUSTRALIA’S death rate has hit a record low, with the nation’s older citizens growing in number and living longer, the Courier Mail reports. There were 140 800 deaths officially recorded Australia-wide during 2009, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It was a decline of about 3200 (2.2%) deaths from 2008.

Fewer links to drug companies
FEWER US doctors say they have financial relationships with drug companies than 5 years ago, according to a national survey reported in the Boston Globe. In the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine the researchers charted declines in ties to drug companies across the board compared with their first survey in 2004. A growing number of medical schools and hospitals have restricted relationships between doctors and industry, and the federal government and some states are starting to require companies to publicly disclose payments.

Tobacco wars
GIANT tobacco companies are stepping up efforts around the world to fight tough restrictions on the marketing of cigarettes, the New York Times reports. The companies are contesting limits on ads in Britain, bigger health warnings in South America and higher cigarette taxes in the Philippines and Mexico. They are also financing lobbying and marketing campaigns in Africa and Asia, and funding TV commercials in Australia. This week public health officials from 171 nations will meet in Uruguay to shape guidelines to enforce a global anti-smoking treaty.


Posted 15 November 2010

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