The Health News – 24 June 2016

Overview:
• Darwin GP Dr Samuel Heard said under-trained GPs have inflated specialist waiting lists in the Top End and led to regular misdiagnosis. Dr Heard called for more transparency for patients around the level of qualification of overseas doctors practicing as GPs.

• It took Kathy Curtis more than a year to learn she had unknowingly passed a genetic fault on to her son Ben, who died suddenly in his sleep aged 30. While studying cases like Ben’s, researchers from the Centenary Institute uncovered a relevant genetic mutation in 27 per cent of unexplained cases where young people died suddenly.

• Mice with behavioural difficulties similar to those experienced by humans with autism have overcome their symptoms by eating the droppings of healthy mice, a new study suggests. The US research, outlined in the scientific journal Cell, suggested the change was related to a strain of bacteria in the gut.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  24th of June 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-23/concerns-over-level-of-training-for-overseas-gps/7535800

Patients’ health is being put at risk by overseas-trained doctors who are failing basic general practitioner exams but are still allowed to practice, a Darwin doctor has claimed.

The Australian Medical Board has said “in an ideal world” Australia would be “served by fully trained doctors, but that was not the case”.

It said patients could check the qualifications of their general practitioner (GP) on a website.

Darwin GP Dr Samuel Heard said under-trained GPs have inflated specialist waiting lists in the Top End and led to regular misdiagnosis.

Dr Heard, who trains GPs, gave the “tragic example” of a woman who was 24 weeks pregnant and was sent to him by another surgery after being told her pregnancy was not viable following a blood test.

“If you were trained you’d know that that blood level drops off in pregnancy and it’s normal,” Dr Heard said.

“This baby was completely healthy and normal and here was this woman [… this woman] was in massive distress.

“I actually tore up the test result in front of her and did a scan to show that everything was alright.”

Overseas-trained doctors have to pass a medical exam in order to practice in Australia, but then have two years to pass a clinical exam.

This is the same for Australian-trained doctors, but those doctors are heavily supervised and receive strict guidance from specialist GPs, while overseas doctors do not, according to Dr Heard.

He said this was not only problematic for patients, but also for hospitals and specialists who are being pushed to the brink as inexperienced GPs order unnecessary tests and referrals.

Dr Heard said some specialist waiting lists have ballooned to hundreds of people because of unnecessary referrals.

“For one specialty I hear there is now a waiting list of 1,000 people … that’s up from a very small number a while ago,” he said.

Dr Jenny Mitchell, Darwin Private Hospital specialist, …[stated] she had been inundated with referrals from overseas-trained GPs.

Dr Joanna Flynn, chair of the Australian Medical Board, said … patients could access the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website to check the qualification of the GP they were seeing.

Dr Heard called for more transparency for patients around the level of qualification of overseas doctors practicing as GPs.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-23/genetic-link-behind-sudden-death-of-young-people-study-shows/7534864

A family is calling for more testing to prevent the sudden death of young people, with new research uncovering a genetic mutation is present in one in four unexplained deaths.

It took Kathy Curtis more than a year to learn she had unknowingly passed a genetic fault on to her son Ben, who died suddenly in his sleep aged 30.

“Seeing I was the one that gave it to him, I found it quite confronting and questioned my ability as his mother,” she said.

“It’s still that way … It’s still very hard.”

A post-mortem examination of Ben’s body did not reveal a cause of death.

Fifteen months after he passed away Ben’s parents discovered he had Long QT Syndrome, a heritable heart condition which can cause irregular rhythms.

While studying cases like Ben’s, researchers from the Centenary Institute uncovered a relevant genetic mutation in 27 per cent of unexplained cases where young people died suddenly.

The study found of the 490 young people across Australia and New Zealand aged 35 or less who had died, 40 per cent of cases were unexplained at autopsy.

Lead researcher, Professor Chris Semsarian, further screened 91 unexplained cases, which revealed the genetic link.

Since her son’s death, Ms Curtis has found out other members of her family also carry the genetic fault.

Professor Semsarian said uncovering the prevalence of a genetic mutation was saving lives.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-22/mice-study-links-gut-bacteria-to-behaviour/7534580

Mice with behavioural difficulties similar to those experienced by humans with autism have overcome their symptoms by eating the droppings of healthy mice, a new study suggests.

The US research, outlined in the scientific journal Cell, suggested the change was related to a strain of bacteria in the gut.

“We have found that changes in the ecology of the gut could change the behaviour in mice,” said the study’s lead researcher and neuroscientist, Mauro Costa-Mattioli from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Dr Costa-Mattioli said it was already known there was an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, in children of women who were obese during pregnancy.

“The reason why we were interested in this [area of science] is because there has been an association between maternal obesity and autism spectrum disorder,” he said.

“And also there has been an association between autism spectrum disorders and changes in the ecology of the gut.”

Australian experts, including University of New South Wales head of pharmacology Professor Margaret Morris, said the study was a promising development in the link between behaviour and the gut’s microorganisms, or biota.

Scientists hope the research could one day lead to changing bacterial composition of the gut being a treatment for humans with behavioural difficulties.

Liked it? Take a second to support healthprofessionalradio on Patreon!