The multi-billion-dollar subsidy for private health insurance isn’t worth it

The Conversation, 27 April 2017
Author: Elizabeth Savage
“Almost 20 years after the 30% subsidy for private health insurance was introduced, premiums continue to rise every year. This comes at a cost to the federal budget – which was forecast at A$6.5 billion in the 2016 federal budget from the subsidy alone. Meanwhile, consumers continue to view private health insurance as poor value for money. It would be sensible for the government to face evidence the subsidy is bad and costly policy, as health bureaucrats and commentators predicted long ago.”
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A doctor’s sexual advances towards a patient are never ok, even if ‘consensual’

The Conversation, 20 April 2017
Author: Ron Paterson
“In a recent independent review, I recommended chaperones no longer be used as an interim protective measure to keep patients safe while allegations of sexual misconduct by a doctor are investigated. The Medical Board of Australia and AHPRA have accepted my recommendations that the current system of using chaperones is outdated and paternalistic. Sadly, cases of sexual misconduct are likely to continue. It’s important patients know the warning signs and where to seek help if they suspect their doctor is behaving inappropriately.”
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New evidence in France of harm from epilepsy drug valproate

BBC, 21 April 2017
Source: BBC News
“A drug given to pregnant women for epilepsy and bipolar disorder caused “serious malformations” in up to 4,100 children, a French study suggests. Introduced in France in 1967, valproate is prescribed widely worldwide. Doctors in France are now advised not to give it to girls, women of childbearing age and pregnant women. Some families of children with birth defects born to women who took the drug while pregnant have sued Sanofi, saying that it did not adequately warn about the risks.”
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Crackdown on migrants forces NHS doctors to ‘act as border guards’

The Guardian, 20 April 2017
Author: Amelia Gentleman
“A medical charity has launched a campaign against government guidance that “makes border guards of doctors” by allowing the Home Office to access details of undocumented migrants who seek NHS treatment. Doctors of the World runs clinics for undocumented migrants who are afraid of accessing NHS healthcare due to concerns that a visit to the doctor could lead to deportation. The organisation wants the government to “stop using NHS patients’ personal information to carry out immigration enforcement”.”
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Policing and Public Health—Strategies for Collaboration

JAMA. 2017;317(15):1525-1526
Authors: Jonathan P. Shepherd, Steven A. Sumner
“Policing and public health have largely been perceived by clinicians, researchers, and policy makers as 2 entirely separate approaches to reducing violence. This long-standing tradition, reinforced by the different languages of criminal justice systems (eg, deterrence, culpability, victimhood, and offending) and public health systems (eg, injury, risk factors, and epidemiology), has perhaps contributed to limited collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and public health to prevent violence. It has also probably limited collaboration between criminologists and population health researchers relative to other cross-discipline areas such as road traffic safety, prisoner health, and prevention of substance abuse.”
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Do patients and doctors understand breast cancer genetic testing results?

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Author: Will Boggs
“If you have early-stage breast cancer and have undergone genetic testing, the odds are high that the results were not explained to you by a genetic counselor, and chances are, the results did not affect your surgeon’s recommendations for treatment, according to a recent U.S. study. Expert guidelines increasingly call for genetic testing to identify the presence of inherited mutations. But it’s not clear if patients or their doctors are using the results to make informed treatment choices.”
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Pfizer subpoenaed in U.S. intravenous saline solution probe

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Author: Nate Raymond, Steve Orlofsky
“Pfizer Inc has received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. Justice Department in connection with an antitrust investigation focusing on drugmakers that market intravenous saline solutions. The probe comes amid a shortage of intravenous saline solutions commonly used to hydrate hospital patients that dates back to late 2013, when drug companies began notifying hospitals that they might experience delivery delays. They said that since the shortage began, prices had risen 200 percent to 300 percent.”
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Italy experiencing measles epidemic after fall-off in vaccinations

The Guardian, 20 April 2017
Source: Reuters
“Italy is experiencing a measles epidemic following a fall-off in vaccinations. The Italian health ministry said on Wednesday there had been almost 1,500 registered cases of measles so far this year against some 840 in all of 2016 and some 250 in 2015. The Higher Health Institute says only around 85% of two-year-olds are being vaccinated against measles at present, well below the 95% threshold recommended by the World Health Organisation to block the illness.”
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The ethics of compromise: third party, public health and environmental perspectives

Journal of Medical Ethics 2017; 43:267-268.
Author: Marks JH
“In their chapter entitled ‘Compromise as a Template’, Lepora and Goodin contend that ‘[i]t is only when the intra-personal conflict forces an agent to choose among items of principled concern … to her that a compromise is genuinely involved’ (p. 19). The authors are right to emphasise the ethical significance of setting aside, forsaking or violating one’s principles to reach an agreement. There may be serious implications for the integrity of an individual or an institution that makes such a compromise. But we should ensure that the intrapersonal focus does not lead to the neglect of other important ethical dimensions.”
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