The Health News – 2 August 2016

Overview:
• An independent investigation of prostate cancer testing errors in South Australia has blamed kits provided to SA Pathology laboratories for incorrect readings. The errors affected 52 men when they had follow-up testing this year after prostate cancer surgery. SA Pathology executive director Ken Barr was sacked because of his handling of the matter.

• The distressing encounters which Brendon Bullock and other police officers suffering from PTSD have had with insurers and private investigators were detailed in ABC’s Four Corners program. In response to queries from Four Corners, MetLife announced it had changed its procedures and now no longer uses surveillance in the assessment of claims related to mental illness.

• More than 500,000 Australians are on the spectrum of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and specialists say it is a significant health burden which is not getting the attention it deserves. Doctors and those affected by the disorder are calling for further investment in FASD services and say it should be managed like other lifestyle diseases like diabetes.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  2nd of August 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-01/prostate-cancer-testing-bungle-independent-report/7676780

An independent investigation of prostate cancer testing errors in South Australia has blamed kits provided to SA Pathology laboratories for incorrect readings.

The errors affected 52 men when they had follow-up testing this year after prostate cancer surgery.

The elevated test results suggested their prostate cancer might have returned and one man received more medical treatment as a result.

SA Pathology executive director Ken Barr was sacked because of his handling of the matter.

“Essentially the [Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Healthcare] report is very critical of the former executive director of Pathology SA Ken Barr and his handling of this incident,” Health Minister Jack Snelling …[said].

Mr Snelling [also] said the findings made particular mention of the man who received follow-up treatment.

“The report says that, even if the tests were correct, that treatment wasn’t clinically justified,” he said.

The report said SA Pathology’s internal quality assurance processes were inadequate and it was slow to act on the problems.

Management, governance and accountability of SA Pathology was seriously deficient, the report concluded.

Mr Snelling said the Government would ensure SA Pathology was overhauled and restructured so its management practices were in line with comparable Australian providers.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-01/mentally-ill-former-police-placed-under-surveillance-by-insurers/7675772

A former police officer was subjected to extensive physical and video surveillance by an insurance company, even after its psychiatrist diagnosed him as “badly depressed, if not at risk of suicide” and struggling with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The distressing encounters which Brendon Bullock and other police officers suffering from PTSD have had with insurers and private investigators …[were] detailed in … [ABC’s] Four Corners program…

The surveillance includes intrusive monitoring of social media accounts and other online activity. In the case of one former officer with PTSD, investigators downloaded 13,427 items.

A former general duties officer, terrorism investigator and undercover operative for the Australian Crime Commission, Mr Bullock witnessed many traumatic events in the course of his duties — car accidents, suicides, homicides and other extreme acts of violence.

The final trigger for his mental illness was attending the scene of a murder where he found the killer and his badly mutilated victim.

Mr Bullock left the police force in 2011 and submitted a compensation claim for his illness under a scheme offered by New South Wales Police Force’s superannuation fund and managed by insurer MetLife.

In December 2012, a psychiatrist selected by the insurer assessed him as having a “total and permanent” disability because of his acute PTSD. The report was given to MetLife, although not to Mr Bullock when he asked for it.

Despite the report, and entreaties from his lawyers for the surveillance to stop, MetLife employed investigators to watch him on another 10 occasions over the next seven months. On four of those occasions they videoed him as well.

Psychiatrist Sandy McFarlane, from the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies, said surveillance worsens an officer’s PTSD.

The surveillance especially unnerved Mr Bullock because he twice received death threats when he was a policeman.

Professor McFarlane estimates one in five police officers are at “significant risk” of mental illness due to the stress of their work.

He said insurers should not view PTSD as “simply a problem of compensation”.

In response to queries from Four Corners, MetLife announced it had changed its procedures and “now no longer use[s] surveillance in the assessment of claims related to mental illness”.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-29/foetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder-to-be-diagnosed-with-new-tool/7671168

Australia finally has a tool for diagnosing foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) — a condition caused by mothers consuming alcohol while pregnant.

More than 500,000 Australians are on the spectrum and specialists say it is a significant health burden which is not getting the attention it deserves.

Doctors and those affected by the disorder are calling for further investment in FASD services and say it should be managed like other lifestyle diseases like diabetes.

FASD occurs when alcohol consumption during pregnancy causes severe developmental delays, disability, learning difficulties, memory impairment and behavioural problems in the offspring.

Child Specialist Doug Shelton, who runs one of the only FASD clinics in Australia on the Gold Coast, thinks up to one million Australians could be on the spectrum.

His estimate is based on modelling from similar countries, because so little is known about FASD in Australia.

He hopes a new diagnostic tool, released just last month in Australia, would change this.

It is an adaption of the Canadian methodology and combines in-depth psychological, medical, language and communication assessments.

Paediatricians and FASD specialists have been developing the tool with federal funding since a national inquiry called for it in 2012.