The Health News – 18 May 2017

Overview:

• The ABC obtained a leaked copy of the committee’s report into low doses of chemotherapy given to dozens of head and neck cancer patients by oncologist John Grygiel, who treated patients at St Vincent’s and at cancer clinics in the state’s central west. It finds “the committee is not able to discount the possibility of a cover-up on the part of St Vincent’s Hospital”.

• Ambulance Tasmania paramedic Lauren Hepher is also the president of the Ambulance Employees Sub-branch of the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU). She is concerned about the workload for Tasmanian paramedics, which she said was affecting health and morale of staff.

• Patient Mr Specis’ PET scan of his brain helped Prince of Wales Hospital researchers, who said Mr Specis was among the subjects who helped them make a significant breakthrough in identifying a leading cause of delirium. Using PET Scans, researchers found changes in part of the brain governing memory, and executive function. Researchers found when the brain was unable to metabolise glucose efficiently, brain function deteriorated, causing delirium.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  18th of May 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-17/st-vincents-may-have-covered-up-chemo-scandal-report-finds/8534566

A powerful parliamentary committee investigating the chemotherapy dosing scandal at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital will deliver a damning report, saying it cannot discount the possibility there was a cover-up.

The ABC …obtained a leaked copy of the committee’s report into low doses of chemotherapy given to dozens of head and neck cancer patients by oncologist John Grygiel, who treated patients at St Vincent’s and at cancer clinics in the state’s central west.

It finds “the committee is not able to discount the possibility of a cover-up on the part of St Vincent’s Hospital”.

It also concluded that:

“…the hospital’s senior management put their public standing ahead of the best interests of their patients as the matter unfolded and quickly became a full-blown scandal.

“[There were] elements of individual and collective human error, as well as systemic failures that contributed over time to the crisis that unfolded.”

The committee found St Vincent’s “failed to prevent and to respond effectively to the off-protocol prescribing of chemotherapy” but noted it has since taken responsibility for the failures.

The committee is also pushing for more transparency about how low dosing may have affected patients.

The inquiry has also recommended that authorities ensure fly-in fly-out medical specialists, who service regional areas, are subject to the same safeguards as locally based clinicians.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-17/ambulance-tasmania-union-warning-over-staff-levels/8532856

Ambulance Tasmania paramedic Lauren Hepher has clocked off from a 14-hour overnight shift. In eight hours, she will start again.

“It’s been pretty busy,” Ms Hepher said. “We are experiencing a really busy period and we haven’t hit the peak of the winter flu season yet so that is quite concerning.”

Ms Hepher is also the president of the Ambulance Employees Sub-branch of the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU).

She is concerned about the workload for Tasmanian paramedics, which she said was affecting health and morale of staff.

HACSU told the ABC when the next fortnightly roster for the southern region came out this week, there were 20 vacant paramedic shifts — and that was before anyone called in sick.

Expecting staff to do overtime is a practice Ms Hepher said had become routine.

Commitment to the job means paramedics push themselves until breaking point, she said.

She said the long-term problem in the hospital system of ambulance “ramping” was compounding the problem.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-17/delirium-patient-who-helped-in-breakthrough-speaks/8533284

Jenny Specis knew something was wrong with her uncle Themis when he asked her if she wanted an ice cream.

It was disturbing because her uncle was lying in a hospital bed having been admitted the day before with a leg and urinary tract infection.

The day before, in January, Ms Specis had called an ambulance to collect the 85-year-old, who was unwell with a high fever and shaking.

After about a day in hospital the infection took hold and Mr Specis developed the first signs of delirium — a brain-related condition that affects up to 50 per cent of elderly hospital patients.

“He said ‘I bought some ice-cream, get yourself some ice cream downstairs’ which was funny because he doesn’t even have a downstairs at home.”

Like so many elderly people with urinary tract infections, Mr Specis’ infection led to acute onset delirium.

Mr Specis was approached to take part in a study by having a PET scan of his brain.

It helped Prince of Wales Hospital researchers, who said Mr Specis was among the subjects who helped them make a significant breakthrough in identifying a leading cause of delirium.

Using PET Scans, researchers found changes in part of the brain governing memory, and executive function.

Researchers found when the brain was unable to metabolise glucose efficiently, brain function deteriorated, causing delirium.

Mr Specis is recovered now and said he does not remember the two days of delirium he experienced while in hospital.

A series of medications resolved the infection, and ultimately the delirium.