The Health News – 25 May 2016

Overview:
• It is unlikely any of 13 children who were exposed to unsterilised needles during surgery suffered harm, the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) says. Hospital chief executive Naomi Dwyer said human error seemed to blamefor a failure to sterilise the needles before they used to inject antibiotics during cerebro-spinal surgery.

• An Australian family is pushing for a controversial new stroke treatment perispinal etanercept, to be made available in Australia, saying the results have been life-changing for their son. The delivery method remains untested in Australia. Griffith University has a clinical trial approved, but it is unfunded.

• An alliance of leading mental health advocates has challenged all political parties to announce what they would do to address the rising toll of suicide and self-harm if elected on July 2. National Mental Health Commissioner Ian Hickie said all candidates needed to commit to a national suicide prevention program and support the recommendation for a suicide prevention trial in 12 regions.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  25th of May 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-24/surgery-unsterilised-needles-blamed-on-human-error/7440678

It is unlikely any of 13 children who were exposed to unsterilised needles during surgery suffered harm, the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) says.

Hospital chief executive Naomi Dwyer said human error seemed to blame for a failure to sterilise the needles before they used to inject antibiotics during cerebro-spinal surgery.

“I think it was a human error — the understanding from the theatre staff was that it was sterile — parts of the contents of that heat-sealed package were sterile but not all of them,” she said.

Ms Dwyer said the problem was realised a fortnight ago and might have been missed for so long because the overall infection rate had dropped by 50 per cent since the introduction of the surgery in 2013.

She said the needles, delivered in their sealed packaging, were clean despite the lack of sterilisation in theatre and the surgery had been performed only 13 times at the WCH.

“The priority was to identify which children were impacted by this incident,” she said.

“We’ve contacted every single family, so it’s 13 families in total, and provided them with assurance that even though there was a lapse in infection control, the expert clinical advice is that the risk of harm is extremely low.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-23/hopes-ama-will-pass-new-stroke-treatment/7436406

An Australian family is pushing for a controversial new stroke treatment to be made available in Australia, saying the results have been life-changing for their son.

After suffering a brain injury as a child, Joel Shepherd was unable to communicate or walk and had constant seizures.

But since receiving the new treatment for strokes in America, a drug called perispinal etanercept, his condition improved dramatically.

Mr Shepherd’s mother, Coralie Graham, said up until the treatment her son spent most of his life relying on other people.

“He could walk only if [someone] held him up; his speech was very, very poor. His swallowing was poor,” she said.

“For 23 years we had basically no hope.”

But two years ago Ms Graham saw a TV program on perispinal etanercept.

Etanercept is a drug commonly used to treat arthritis, but American doctor Edward Tobinick developed a new use for the drug.

The perispinal method involves injecting the drug into the spine to enter the vascular system.

The use of the drug for something other than its original purpose is called off-label use.

“All off-label uses begin as something that would be controversial,” Dr Tobinick said.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned there are clinical, safety, ethical, legal and financial risks related to using off-label drugs.

But Ms Graham said as a nurse she was confident in the treatment, and 93 days after hearing about it had mortgaged her house to pay for the trip to America.

Nearly two years since the treatment began, Ms Graham said she would not have it any other way.

“[Joel is] now able to walk unassisted for a fair distance; he chases me sometimes in the park, which he enjoys,” she said.

Now Ms Graham is leading a push for the treatment to be made available to Australians.

The delivery method remains untested in Australia.

Griffith University has a clinical trial approved, but it is unfunded.

The group has raised nearly $90,000 of the $250,000 needed and is confident the trial will go ahead.

Ms Graham said with her son’s help, she would keep fighting until other families had the same access.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-24/malcolm-turnbull-says-preventing-mental-illness-a-priority/7440486

Addressing suicide and mental illness would be a “vital national priority” for a re-elected Coalition government, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced.

An alliance of leading mental health advocates has challenged all political parties to announce what they would do to address the rising toll of suicide and self-harm if elected on July 2.

An audit of 28 electorates between 2009 and 2012 found suicide rates exceeded the road toll in every seat and 23 electorates recorded high to extreme levels.

National Mental Health Commissioner Ian Hickie said all candidates needed to commit to a national suicide prevention program and support the recommendation for a suicide prevention trial in 12 regions.

He said regional areas were the hardest hit and major risk factors included economic impacts such as the mining downturn, drought and the closure of regional industries.

… Mr Turnbull …said the Coalition would “leave no stone unturned” in addressing suicide and mental illness, but stopped short of committing to a national prevention program.