The Health News – 21 November 2016

Overview:
•  Since being diagnosed with drug-induced bi-polar disorder, Lisa*, has been forced to undergo Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) more times than she can remember. Lisa has also fronted Mental Health Tribunal hearings, where compulsory orders are made.

• Staff at the Royal Hobart Hospital were urged to consider opening closed beds on Thursday to clear a “choked” emergency department. A senior staff member advised there were 22 patients admitted and awaiting ward beds, with “resuscitation capacity compromised” due to the number of admitted patients.

• In a Tasmanian first, premature babies at the Royal Hobart Hospital are now being offered donated human breastmilk, flown in from Queensland. Milk banks are operating in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, but Lactation consultant Christina Galloway said currently a milk bank was considered unviable in Tasmania.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  21st of November 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-20/patients-forced-to-have-ect-without-legal-representation/8030996

Since being diagnosed with drug-induced bi-polar disorder, Lisa*, has been forced to undergo Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) more times than she can remember.

As an involuntary mental health patient, she has had security guards wheel her down to the treatment room and been held down to stop her escaping.

“I have lost count over the years. I would say close to 100. It was always against my will,” she said.

Lisa would prefer alternative methods, but often in her manic stages will refuse all treatments. Over the years she has tried many ways to prevent it.

Lisa has also fronted Mental Health Tribunal hearings, where compulsory orders are made.

Last year, 620 patients were forced to undergo ECT by the tribunal, under the Mental Health Act.

…The tribunal can decide whether ECT can be performed if the patient is not considered to have the capacity to give informed consent, or if they are under 18.

Last year, six patients aged 16 and 17 were given ECT.

Compulsory orders can also place people in psychiatric facilities, make them undergo neurosurgery, or order a range of medications such as lithium or anti-psychotic medications.

In 2015 and 2016 only 19 per cent of people who appeared were represented by a lawyer.

NSW has the highest rate of legal representation in Australia with 77 per cent. In Queensland it is 4 per cent.

Victoria Legal Aid lawyer Chris Povey said there were serious human rights implications posed by compulsory treatment orders, particularly ECT orders.

The Mental Health Legal Centre also represents patients but it runs primarily on donations.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-18/rhh-emergency-department-choked-by-ward-bed-shortages/8036226

Staff at the Royal Hobart Hospital were urged to consider opening closed beds on Thursday to clear a “choked” emergency department.

… a senior staff member advised there were 22 patients admitted and awaiting ward beds, with “[resuscitation] capacity compromised” due to the number of admitted patients.

“You should urgently consider opening some of the closed beds to decompress ED (Emergency Department) before we have an adverse event,” the email said.

Unions have repeatedly raised concerns that bed blockages at the hospital would be exacerbatedwhen wards were moved into a temporary inpatient facility so an existing building could be demolished, as part of the hospital redevelopment.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the Tasmania Health Service (THS) was looking at options for extra beds.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-20/premmie-babies-offered-donated-breastmilk-in-tasmanian-first/8039998

In a Tasmanian first, premature babies at the Royal Hobart Hospital are now being offered donated human breastmilk, flown in from Queensland.

Dubbed “liquid gold” the milk is screened and pasteurised in Brisbane, before being frozen and flown to Tasmania packed in dry ice.

It is being offered to babies in the neo-natal intensive care unit, born before 34 weeks and under a particular weight.

Lactation consultant Christina Galloway spearheaded the plan and said it was very exciting.

So far 17 babies have benefited from the donor milk, including a set of twins, and Ms Galloway said no parents had refused it.

Milk banks are operating [in] New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, but Ms Galloway said currently a milk bank was considered unviable in Tasmania.

Those willing to donate were urged to contact milk banks in other states.