US plans to deploy 3000 army personnel to tackle Ebola in west Africa

British Medical Journal, BMJ 2014;349:g5727
Author: Michael McCarthy

“The United States will deploy 3000 army personnel in a major effort to combat the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, President Barack Obama said on 16 September. “Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us—the United States—and it’s a responsibility that we embrace,” Obama said at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, where he had attended briefings on the situation. He added, “We’re prepared to take leadership on this to provide the kind of capabilities that only America has and to mobilize the world in ways that only America can do”…

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Record Spending Slowdown Shows Health Not Budget Problem

Australian Medical Association, 23 September 2014

“AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler has called on the Federal Government to immediately drop plans to slash $5 from the Medicare rebate following the release of figures showing claims that health spending is growing unsustainably are baseless. “The Abbott Government has justified its extreme health Budget measures on the basis that health spending is out of control. Clearly it is not,” A/Prof Owler said. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released analysis showing total national spending on health grew by a record low 1.5 per cent in real terms in 2012-13, underpinned by a big 2.4 per cent fall in Federal Government funding. Health’s share of the Commonwealth Budget has fallen in the last seven years from more than 18 per cent to 16.1 per cent…”

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GP workforce crisis is predicted as earnings fall for seventh year in a row

British Medical Journal: BMJ 2014;349:g5781
Author: Gareth Iacobucci

“GPs in the United Kingdom have seen their income fall for the seventh successive year in real terms, as rises in practice expenses continue to outstrip increases in earnings. New figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that the average income in real terms of contractor GPs (those working under national General Medical Services (GMS) and local Personal Medical Services (PMS) contracts) was £102?000 (€130?000; $170?000) before tax in 2012-13, down from £104?100 in 2011-12 (figure?).1 The figures mean that the annual income of contractor GPs has fallen by 22% in real terms since 2005-06, when it stood at £129?994…”

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Professional Standards Committee Inquiry decision: Dr Brett Allan Thomson

Health Care Complaints Commission, 22 September 2014

“The Commission prosecuted a complaint about Dr Brett Allen Thomson, a medical practitioner who had been working at Milton Ulladulla Hospital, before a Medical Professional Standards Committee. The prosecution related to Dr Thomson not appropriately managing the emergency labour of a patient and the ensuing birth of a baby, who was significantly compromised during labour and delivery and suffered profound brain damage.

On 11 September 2014, the Committee found unsatisfactory professional conduct proved in that Dr Thompson:

  • failed to perform an emergency caesarean section in circumstances where a registrar had performed three prior unsuccessful attempts at vacuum extraction
  • attempted to assist the patient to have a vaginal birth by using vacuum and forceps extraction despite three prior unsuccessful attempts at vacuum extraction and a non reassuring cardiotocography result
  • failed to make a record of his clinical assessment of and any management plan for the baby.

The Committee reprimanded Dr Thomson…”

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US drug maker is challenged over decision to force patients to use new version of drug as patent expiry looms

British Medical Journal: BMJ 2014;349:g5775
Author: Owen Dyer

“New York state’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has launched a federal antitrust suit against the drug company Actavis and its recently acquired subsidiary Forest Laboratories, over their plan to force patients to switch to a new extended release version of the Alzheimer’s drug Namenda (memantine).

Forest announced in February that it would stop manufacturing the twice daily Namenda this summer, offering instead a new once daily drug, Namenda XR. Namenda’s patent is due to expire in July 2015, which would normally trigger a sharp drop in sales as cheaper generic versions flooded the market. But Forest said that it hoped to maintain its market share by engineering what is known in the industry as a “forced switch” to Namenda XR…”

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New psychoactive substances: reducing the harm caused by untested drugs and an unregulated market

Med J Aust 2014; 201 (6): 310-311
Author: Alex D Wodak

“New psychoactive substances are so diverse that they cannot be controlled by international law. Many countries, including Australia, have experienced considerable difficulty responding to the steadily increasing number of new psychoactive substances arriving on the black market…

The Psychoactive Substances Bill, passed by the New Zealand Parliament on 11 July 2013, aimed to “protect New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, from the harm caused by untested drugs and an unregulated market”…
During the short time the Bill was in operation, the number of new psychoactive substances available in New Zealand declined by 75%, from an estimated 200 untested drugs to fewer than 50 tested drugs, while availability fell from an estimated 3000 unlicensed outlets to 170 licensed ones….”

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US oncologist faces life in prison for false cancer diagnoses

British Medical Journal: BMJ 2014;349:g5738
Author: Owen Dyer

“A Michigan oncologist who falsely diagnosed cancer in patients and gave them unnecessary chemotherapy so as to bill Medicare for millions of dollars faces up to 215 years of consecutive prison sentences after pleading guilty to 16 counts of healthcare fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. Farid Fata, 49, ran a cancer treatment clinic with seven offices in the Detroit area, Michigan Hematology Oncology, and a diagnostic testing facility, United Diagnostics. He billed the federal health insurance program Medicare for around $225m (£138m; €175m) between 2007 and his arrest in 2013, $91m of which was paid out…”

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Sussex school defends offering STI testing to pupils

The Guardian, 22 September 2014
Author: Press Association
“School says tests were part of NHS strategy that had been running for years, as parents express shock at not being told.”
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The Famous Can Present a Minefield for Doctors

NY Times, 21 September 2014
Author: Anemona Hartocollis
“The treatment of Joan Rivers at a Manhattan endoscopy clinic last month may be the latest example of what is known in the medical profession as “V.I.P. Syndrome,” in which famous or influential patients get special treatment. And surprisingly often, it is not for the best.”
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NHS whistleblowing ‘problems persist’

BBC Health News, 22 September 2014
Author: Nick Triggle
“Whistleblowers still face real problems in speaking out in the health service – despite the push to create a more open culture, campaigners say.”
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