AIHW survey shows significant cut in smoking rates

AMA, 17/07/2014
“AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, said today that the latest National Drugs Strategy Household Survey from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows a very welcome and significant decrease in smoking rates in Australia. Daily smoking among people aged 14 and older has declined from 15.1 per cent in 2010 to 12.8 per cent in 2013. A/Prof Owler said the fact that daily smoking rates have almost halved since 1991 is a victory for strong public health advocacy and education, and courageous tobacco control legislation.”
Find statement here and AIHW report here.

Johns Hopkins Health System agrees to pay $190m to women filmed by doctor during pelvic exams

BMJ 2014;349:g4775
Author: Michael McCarthy
“The Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore, Maryland, has agreed to pay $190m (£111m; €141m) to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of women who were secretly filmed and photographed by a doctor during their pelvic examinations.”
Find article here.

Implementing Health Reform: Appellate Decisions Split On Tax Credits In ACA Federal Exchange

Health Affairs Blog, online 23 July 2014
Author: Timothy Jost
“July 22, 2014 was arguably the most important day in the history of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act since the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the National Federation of Independent Business case in June of 2012. As no doubt most readers of this blog know by now, shortly after 10 a.m. the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed down its decision in Halbig v. Burwell. Two judges ruled over a strong dissent that an Internal Revenue Service rule allowing federally facilitated exchanges to issue premium tax credits to low and moderate income Americans is invalid. Approximately two hours later the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, unanimously upheld the IRS rule in King v. Burwell. Combined, the cases contain five judicial opinions, three in the Halbig case and two in King. Four of the six judges voted to uphold the rule, two to strike it down.”
Find article here.

Courts issue conflicting decisions on US health exchange subsidies

BMJ 2014;349:g4803
Author: Michael McCarthy
“Two federal appeal courts issued conflicting rulings on 22 July about whether the Obama administration can subsidize premiums for health insurance bought from federally run health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.”
Find article here.

Discriminatory laws threaten effective response to HIV/AIDS, conference hears

BMJ 2014;349:g4802
Author: Patralekha Chatterjee
“Laws that criminalise vulnerable populations are key barriers to an effective response to HIV and AIDS, the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne has heard. The GAP report by UNAIDS,1 released just ahead of the conference, noted that the number of people who were newly infected with HIV had continued to decline in most parts of the world and that AIDS related deaths had fallen by 35% since their peak in 2005. But it warned that punitive laws that discriminate against key populations—such as men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people—persist and threaten the vision of a world with no new HIV infections, no discrimination, and no AIDS related deaths.”
Find article here.

HSCIC outlines planned changes for making patient data more secure

BMJ 2014;349:g4788
Author: Nigel Hawkes
“Access to patient data may in future be provided through a “data laboratory” managed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and housed on its premises, a meeting in London heard on 21 July. The option is one that the centre is considering in the wake of a critical report on data security at its predecessor, the NHS Information Centre.1″
Find article here.

‘The law can be an awful nuisance in the area of HIV/AIDS’: Michael Kirby

The Conversation, online 23 July 2014
Author: Michael Kirby
“The law can be a guardian of people who are vulnerable and who are sick, but the law can also be an awful nuisance in this area of HIV and AIDS. And in the past, I have served in a number bodies – most recently the Global Commission on HIV and the Law – looking at the way in which the law is an impediment to successful strategies.”
Find speech transcript and related video here.

An assisted dying law might save me from a lingering and unpleasant death

BMJ 2014;349:g4784
Author: Paul Ivor Chamberlain
“I am a 67 year old retired chartered accountant. Almost four years ago I was diagnosed as having motor neurone disease, which lacks effective treatment and a cure. It is terminal and a particularly horrible way to die. All my muscles have been affected, and I am on a ventilator for more than 20 hours a day. I will deteriorate until I am in a vegetative state, probably unable to communicate, and possibly fed through a tube in my stomach. Eventually my breathing muscles will cease completely and I will die. I receive excellent care from my general practitioner and the local hospice. But no matter how good the palliative care, my death will be lingering and unpleasant. My wife and I are coping but we are in a lonely place, full of anxiety for the outcome of this dreadful disease that has separated us physically.”
Find article here.

Rising complaints against doctors due to changed patient expectations, researchers say

BMJ 2014;349:g4754
Author: Tom Moberly
“Numbers of complaints against doctors have risen as a result of broad cultural changes in society, including changing expectations, nostalgia for a “golden age” of healthcare, and a desire to raise grievances altruistically, researchers have said. A study funded by the General Medical Council looked into the factors behind the increase in inquiries it received from members of the public about doctors’ fitness to practice.1 The number rose from 3615 in 2007 to 6154 in 2012.”
Find article here.

Medical Council of India is corrupt, says health minister

BMJ 2014;349:g4762
Author: Priyanka Pulla
“India’s health minister, Harsh Vardhan, has described the Indian drug regulator, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), as a “snake pit of vested interests,” and he labelled the Medical Council of India (MCI) a corrupt organisation. He was responding to questions from the Indian Express after The BMJ published an article by David Berger, a general medicine practitioner who had worked in northern India. In the article Berger chronicled his experiences of working in a corrupt system and said that such corruption was eroding the trust between doctors and patients.1″
Find article here.