Consumer e-health interest
THE new Consumers e-Health Alliance is keen to be “at the table” as the federal government rolls out its $467 million personally controlled electronic health record program, The Australian reports. The emerging network comprises people from organisations that want to ensure health consumers’ interests are adequately represented during implementation of the program. The alliance has already won support from the Australian General Practice Network and the Medical Software Industry Association.

Patient control questioned
PATIENT control over what goes into their electronic medical records faces resistance from medical leaders, who are calling for a delay to the potentially hazardous patient control feature, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. AMA vice-president Dr Steve Hambleton said patient control of records should be delayed until the electronic records transfer system was bedded down and had won the confidence of doctors and patients. The right of patients to hide elements of their records from some health professionals has been hailed by the federal government as a central element of the e-health plan, due to start in July 2012.

Imaging rebates too low
MEDICARE rebates for x-rays, MRIs and CT scans have not been adjusted for inflation for 13 years and some patients are paying thousands of dollars out of their own pockets, The Australian reports. An Access Economics report was reported to show the price Medicare pays for bulk-billed scans is $26 less than it costs to deliver the service. For non-bulk-billed services, the Medicare rebate is $53 less than it costs the practice to provide the service.

Indigenous health gap
NARROWING the life expectancy gap between indigenous and other Australians may prove even harder than expected, The Australian reports. A study published in Heart Lung and Circulation shows indigenous people in their mid to late 20s are suffering heart attacks at up to 30 times the rate in the general population, and Aboriginal women are much more affected by heart disease than those in the mainstream community.

Baby boomers drink more
BABY boomers may tut-tut about the drinking habits of young people, but new research confirms that members of the Woodstock generation are more likely to drink daily than those aged under 25, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The Australian National Drug Strategy’s Household Survey showed very frequent drinking and binge drinking among young people had decreased over the past 10 years but had remained stable among baby boomers. Up to 8% of male baby boomers were binge drinking at least weekly, the study showed.

Obesity rates rocket
Western Australia’s obesity rate has rocketed, with a new survey showing more than half of the state’s adults are classified as overweight or obese, WA Today reports. The state government’s Physical Activity Taskforce’s latest report into the exercise levels of adults revealed that while 60% of adults undertake sufficient activity, the remainder either did no exercise at all or did not do enough to get any health benefit. Sufficient activity was classified as either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity work across five or more sessions or an hour of vigorous-intensity exercise in a week.

Vitamin D supplements not needed
AN expert committee has warned that very high doses of vitamin D that can only be achieved by taking supplements are unnecessary and could be harmful, the New York Times reports. Most people have adequate amounts of vitamin D in their blood supplied by their diets and natural sources like sunshine, the committee says in a report released by the Institute of Medicine in the United States. Vitamin D sales have soared in the US, growing faster than any other supplement, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

Finger length predicts cancer risk
A STUDY shows men whose index fingers are longer than their ring, or fourth, fingers have a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The study published in the British Journal of Cancer shows the chances of developing the disease drop by a third, and even more in younger men. Finger pattern could help identify which men should undergo regular screening, especially in combination with genetic testing or other risk factors such as a family history of the disease.

Donor campaign too successful?
A NATIONAL campaign for more Australians to donate their organs has produced an unexpected result for Victoria, which has been inundated with eyes but doesn’t have the resources to transplant them, The Age reports. Victoria’s Lions Eye Bank director Graeme Pollock said the service had a 24% jump in donations, from 141 in the first 10 months of last year to 185 for the same period this year. Although the result was pleasing, he said there were insufficient resources in the health system to ensure all the corneas in the donated eyes could be transplanted.

Extra training for big babies
DOCTORS are being trained in how to deliver super-sized babies as Queensland’s obesity epidemic spirals out of control, the Courier Mail reports. The large newborns — most born to obese and overweight mothers ― are so big their shoulders are becoming stuck during labour resulting in shoulder dystocia. Dr Gino Pecoraro, AMA Queensland president and a Brisbane obstetrician, said an increasing number of cases meant junior doctors now took part in regular mock-up trials.

Posted 6 December 2010

One thought on “Health headlines: our top ten

  1. Dr. Iain Esslemont says:

    Vitamin D supplements not needed
    After the Second World War, there was an increase in the number of children with signs of irritability. On investigation they were found to have hypercalcaemia and some went on to develop renal calculi. During the war vitamen D supplements were used to prevent rickets, using cod liver oil, halibut liver oil, and vitamin D added to foods such as margarine. The conclusion was that vitamin D in excess can be toxic.

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