The Health News – 10 June 2016

Overview:
• Andrew Knox who received incorrect chemotherapy doses says he will reluctantly accept the $100,000 he was offered in writing earlier this week by the South Australian Government insurer., rather than put his family through possibly years of legal wrangling seeking a larger payment. Over about six months until early last year, five leukaemia patients at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and five at Flinders Medical Centre were given a single dose of a chemotherapy drug per day, instead of two.

• A study published in the prestigious medical journal, the Lancet, reviewed the scientific evidence for 14 different antidepressants in children and young adults. Lead author Dr Andrea Cipriani from Oxford University in the UK found only one drug, fluoxetine or Prozac, was more effective at relieving depression than a placebo.

• A Victorian cross-party state committee has delivered a groundbreaking report recommending the State Government legalise assisted dying for people suffering from serious and incurable conditions. The report makes 49 recommendations covering assisted suicide and amending the Crime Act, to protect doctors who act within the assisted dying legislation.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  10th of June 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-09/andrew-knox-chemotherapy-bungle-settlement-offer/7496772

A man who received incorrect chemotherapy doses says he will reluctantly accept a settlement offered by the South Australian Government insurer.

Andrew Knox said he would take the $100,000 he was offered in writing earlier this week, rather than put his family through possibly years of legal wrangling seeking a larger payment.

Mr Knox said he believed it was not enough money.

“We took rapid [legal] opinion overnight and were advised that the offer that was given was inadequate in the circumstances,” he said.

“The alternative is to commit our surviving families to two or three years of litigation, and litigation no matter how model it might be is always bitter. We couldn’t do that.”

Over about six months until early last year, five leukaemia patients at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and five at Flinders Medical Centre were given a single dose of a chemotherapy drug per day, instead of two.

Mr Knox said neither he nor other patients affected had been advised they would have any legal costs covered, an issue which the Premier has now raised in State Parliament.

Mr Weatherill told Parliament the settlement sum would be inclusive of legal costs.

Mr Knox repeated his earlier call for a judicial investigation or royal commission into the bungle.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-09/antidepressents-ineffective-for-kids-and-teens/7495080

A major review of antidepressants has found they are largely ineffective and may even be harmful for children and teens.

The study, published in the prestigious medical journal, the Lancet, reviewed the scientific evidence for 14 different antidepressants in children and young adults.

Lead author Dr Andrea Cipriani from Oxford University in the UK found only one drug, fluoxetine or Prozac, was more effective at relieving depression than a placebo.

Another drug, venlafaxine, was linked to an increased risk of engaging suicidal thoughts.

The study reviewed 34 trials with more than 5,000 participants aged between nine and 18.

Professor Jon Jureidini from the University of Adelaide, who wrote a comment piece about the research, said the findings had “disturbing implications for clinical practice … as the risk-benefit profile of antidepressants in the acute treatment of depression does not seem to offer a clear advantage for children and adolescents”.

The study authors recommend that “children and adolescents taking antidepressants be carefully monitored closely, regardless of the antidepressant chosen, particularly at the beginning of treatment”.

Major depression is common in these age groups, with around 3 per cent of children and 6 per cent of adolescents reporting depressive symptoms.

Health experts are concerned about a large increase in Australian children and young people being prescribed strong drugs such as antidepressants medications.

A study by University of Sydney researchers in 2014 looked at prescribing patterns for children and adolescents from 2009 to 2012.

The number of children aged between 10 and 14 given antidepressants jumped by more than a third.

University of Sydney’s Professor Iain McGregor, a co-author of the 2014 study, said antidepressants were less effective in depressed children and adolescents than in adults.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-09/euthanasia-end-of-life-committee-report-victoria-groundbreaking/7494920

A Victorian cross-party state committee has delivered a groundbreaking report recommending the State Government legalise assisted dying for people suffering from serious and incurable conditions.

The controversial recommendations were handed down by Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee, which has been investigating options for the terminally ill over the past 10 months.

The report makes 49 recommendations covering assisted suicide and amending the Crime Act, to protect doctors who act within the assisted dying legislation.

“The Government should introduce legislation to allow adults with decision-making capacity, suffering from a serious and incurable condition who are at the end of life to be provided assistance to die in certain circumstances,” the report said.

It said the request to die must come from the patient in the final weeks or months of their life and must be approved by a primary doctor and an independent secondary doctor.

“Each doctor must be properly qualified to make a professional diagnosis and prognosis regarding the patient’s specific condition,” the report said

Assisted dying should involve a doctor prescribing a lethal drug, which the patient could take without further assistance, unless the person is physically unable to take the legal drug themselves.

The committee’s report paves the way for a change in the law and calls for the implementation of a taskforce to examine the best approach to legislative change.

It also recommended an Assisted Dying Review Board, to ensure that doctors are complying with requirements of the assisted dying framework.

The committee said any breaches should be reported to Victoria Police.

He said evidence from the Victorian Coroner and Victorian Police indicated that between 2009 and 2014, 240 people who were approaching death committed suicide.