The Health News – 14 March 2017

Overview:
• Northern Territory doctors have supported calls by the Prime Minister, who wrote to all state and territory leaders to ban unvaccinated children from attending child care.

• The four new AW139 helicopters used for rescue services cannot land on at least seven helipads across parts of northern New South Wales because the helicopters create too much downwash.

• More than 314,000 CT scans of the lower back were ordered in Australia between 2013 and 2014, most of which showed no abnormalities. In cases of low back pain, X-rays and CT scans provide no meaningful information to guide treatment, exposing patients to unnecessary radiation.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  14th of March 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-13/nt-doctors-support-unvaccinated-children-childcare-ban/8349378

 Territory doctors have supported calls by the Prime Minister to ban unvaccinated children from enrolling in child care, while concerns have been raised about excluding vulnerable children from education.

… Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote to all state and territory leaders, urging them to put measures in place to prevent unvaccinated children from attending child care.

Associate Professor Robert Parker from the NT branch of the Australian Medical Association said it would support such a move.

“The AMA is very supportive of children being immunised; I think a number of people who don’t immunise kids are just not aware of the tremendous damage diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, did to kids before immunisation was available,” he said.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the Government was considering the ban.

Sarah Lloyd from the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) NT branch said the organisation was supportive of measures to compel parents to vaccinate children, but it was concerned about the exclusion of children from education.

Children aged five in the NT were more likely to be fully immunised, with 93.7 per cent of children immunised compared to the national average of 93.4 per cent.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/helipads-in-northern-nsw-need-upgrading-for-new-helicopters/8343502

A fleet of new rescue helicopters cannot land on at least seven helipads across parts of northern New South Wales because the helicopters create too much downwash.

The four new AW139 helicopters began work in the region this week, with a doctor and paramedic on every flight.

Hunter New England Health said the new helicopters were larger and would create significantly more downwash than the current aircraft.

It means they cannot land at least seven helipads, including the one at Moree hospital in the state’s far north, where there are around 18 retrievals a year.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshalls said he did not know why efforts were not made sooner to ensure all helipads could cope with the new helicopters providing rescue services in the region.

“The review shows that during the past two years, 75 per cent of helipads in our area have had zero to six landings a year.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-13/why-are-we-wasting-money-on-unneeded-medical-tests/8349456

In 2013 and 2014, more than 314,000 CT scans of the lower back were ordered in Australia, most of which showed no abnormalities.

In routine cases of low back pain, X-rays and CT scans provide no meaningful information to guide treatment, exposing patients to unnecessary radiation.

A number of factors have contributed to this, including increased consumer expectations, an ageing population, financial incentives (where doctors have a stake in imaging services) and “defensive medicine”, which is doctors protecting themselves against possible litigation arising from missing a diagnosis.

This is one of numerous areas of wasted healthcare expenditure around the world.

Studies in the US have reported that 20 to 25 per cent of all health care delivered is either not needed, or harmful.

The situation in Australia appears much the same. A conservative estimate of avoidable costs in Australia’s public hospital system is $928 million.

We can reduce some of this waste by looking at why doctors continue to order these tests and use behavioural techniques to change the situation.

One of the drivers of this waste is increasing consumer demand for medical tests.

New technologies and increased public awareness have led to increases in mass screening for breast, bowel and cervical cancer.

Popular media further fuels demand; publicity of Angelina Jolie’s preventative mastectomy in 2013 led to the “Angelina Jolie effect” — a two-fold increase in consultations for breast cancer genetic testing and risk-reduction surgery.

While there is evidence to support screening in these cases, it has empowered consumers to request tests for a variety of other ailments, including X-rays and CT scans for routine low back pain.

Reducing healthcare waste relating to unnecessary tests has been a major priority for researchers, governments and health services for decades.

 

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