Ethics row erupts
UNIVERSITY of Sydney public health professor Simon Chapman has written a scathing critique of neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo’s offer of the opportunity to witness his performances in the operating theatre as a charity auction prize, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Dr Teo offered a day spent in his company, including the possibility of watching excision of brain tumours, . Professor Chapman, in an article to be published in the BMJ, raised ethical questions about the prize, saying a “person with cancer about to have brain surgery will often be desperate and vulnerable”. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons will examine the claims about Dr Teo.
Gluten diagnosis discovered
AFTER 10 years of stomach pain and medical testing, Lara Mainka, 42, has finally been told she is gluten intolerant without having coeliac disease, and doctors think there may be a lot more Australians in a similar position, The Age reports. Professor Peter Gibson, professor of medicine at Monash University and Eastern Health, said he recently discovered the diagnosis when he set out to correct the “almost unbelievable” lack of research into gluten intolerance with a study involving Ms Mainka and 33 others who had undergone tests showing they did not have coeliac disease.
Stick with bungled e-health
THE Victorian government should stick with the state’s bungled $360 million health technology program because it was finally starting to deliver some benefits, according to Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, The Age reports. Dr Haikerwal, who is the federal government’s clinical advisor on e-health and past president of the AMA, said the HealthSMART program had “a long tortuous history” but cost savings would not be made by ditching it, only to start again from scratch to build an electronic system to share patient information in hospitals. HealthSMART, originally due to be completed in 2007, was supposed to introduce clinical systems for electronic prescribing, ordering tests and reporting results to Victorian hospitals, but those programs are now partially running in just four hospitals.
Sex entrepreneur faces ban
THE controversial sexual impotence entrepreneur Jacov Vaisman is facing a ban from corporate life for “unconscionable conduct”, which includes telling vulnerable patients their penis would shrink or that they faced a 50% risk of heart attack if they did not sign up for his company’s treatment program, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. After a year-long investigation, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began an action in the Federal Court against Mr Vaisman, his company AMI (Advanced Medical Institute) and two of its doctors, Brian Lonergan and James Vandeleur. The ACCC also claims Dr Lonergan and Dr Vandeleur put AMI’s profits before their patients’ interests, failed to try to diagnose underlying medical issues and did not tell patients that they would only prescribe AMI medication, which was much cheaper through the patient’s GP.
Health reforms opposed
OPPOSITION is hardening to a key plank of the federal government’s health reform program, with the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) arguing the state government should consider withdrawing from the entire agreement to prevent it proceeding, The Australian reports. The VHA, which represents public hospitals, community services and public aged care facilities, said it would rather see the reforms stall than continue with the planned Medicare Locals, at least in their current form. It is concerned that Medicare Locals will usurp existing community health groups that it says work well.
Nurses not registered
THOUSANDS of Victorian nurses and midwives are at risk of being unable to work this week because they have not registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA), The Age reports. An AHPRA spokeswoman said about 5000 of the state’s 84 000 nurses had not had their applications processed by last week, despite being told last year the deadline was 31 December. She said a grace period of one month meant any nurse or midwife not registered by today (31 January) would not be able to practise and would have to start the registration process again rather than transferring from the Victorian register to the national one.
Mental health plea
IN his last speech as Australian of the Year for 2010, Professor Patrick McGorry has urged the federal government to support a substantial investment in the mental health sector, ABC News reports. Professor McGorry, a leading psychiatrist, researcher and advocate for youth mental health reform, says he is pleased the issue has received more exposure during the year, but he wants the government to commit to a long-term solution.
Donor identity action
A WOMAN, conceived with the help of a sperm donor, has taken a rare legal step to find out the identity of her biological father, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. In a case that could affect thousands of donor-conceived families, Kimberley Springfield has asked a tribunal to overturn a bureaucratic decision that no action be taken to help identify the donor. Her case comes as state and federal inquiries consider donor conception and the rights of donor-conceived people to gain access to identifying information about their donors.
Birth video ban
HOSPITALS are placing constraints on video cameras in the delivery room, stopping new dads from recording the arrival of their latest family member for posterity, The Australian reports. Increasingly, hospitals are viewing the gadgets as a hazard, or at least a potential nuisance that needs to be regulated. Reasons for the caution include concerns for the privacy of staff, who may not covet a starring role in someone’s home movie collection while they go about their work.
A BRITISH man who weighs 127kg said that he intends to put on weight because he is not fat enough to qualify for weight-loss surgery, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Darin McCloud was told he did not qualify for a gastric bypass because he did not meet the criteria for the operation. The 45-year-old now plans to go on a get-fat-quick diet to tip the scales at more than 133kg — the weight deemed necessary for the surgery.
Posted 31 January 2011