The Health News – 8 December 2016

Overview:
• A shortage of radiologists is causing delays in medical images being interpreted at Adelaide’s Flinders Medical Centre. A whistleblower claims that a child’s X-ray was done earlier this year but was not interpreted by a radiologist for at least six weeks. The notes on file shows a potential indicator of child abuse.

• Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth lacked a consistent and coordinated approach to understanding patient safety. The under-dosing of chemotherapy drugs was not logged into the Safety Learning System, leading to a further medical errors. Over a period of six months 10 leukaemia patients were given incorrect treatment, three patients have died.

• This year, there was an unexpected increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism in Australia. The lack of specialists in the autism spectrum prompts the Australian Medical Association to call for greater awareness of autism disorder, and for increased funding to train doctors and improve specialist care.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  8th of December 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-07/child’s-x-ray-left-unread-for-weeks-at-adelaide-hospital:-claims/8100910

A shortage of radiologists is causing delays in medical images being interpreted amid claims a child’s X-ray was not examined for more than a month at Adelaide’s Flinders Medical Centre, a whistleblower has told the ABC.

It is alleged the child’s X-ray was done earlier this year and the file noted a suspicion of non-accidental injuries — a potential indicator of child abuse.

Despite that, the whistleblower claims the X-ray “sat there and sat there and sat there” and was not interpreted by a radiologist for at least six weeks.

The Guardian for Children and Young People, Amanda Shaw, said potential child protection cases needed to be treated as a priority.

The Government is in the process of outsourcing radiology services at the Lyell McEwin Hospital because of a staff shortage.

A UK-based firm, Everlight Radiology, is also being paid to read medical images after-hours for the hospital.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-07/hospital-staff-not-using-safety-system-to-report-mistakes/8100424

A crucial safety system that should have been used to report the under-dosing of chemotherapy drugs at two Adelaide hospital[s] is rarely used by medical staff, SA Health has found.

The review into the Central Adelaide Local Health Network was commissioned to help improve patient care, learn from adverse incidents and reassure the community about safety.

It found the Safety Learning System, which is used to log mistakes and near misses, has rarely been used but recent adverse events meant a “small number of specialties” were using it more.

The system came under scrutiny in the chemotherapy scandal because when the under-dosing error was realised in January last year no-one logged the mistake, leading to a further under-dosing.

Over a period of six months 10 leukaemia patients were given incorrect treatment.

Three patients have …died.

The review found hospitals including the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth lacked a consistent and coordinated approach to understanding patient safety.

It found open disclosure of errors appeared to be practised variably and sometimes left to junior staff rather than being led by experienced consultants.

The review stated the Safety Learning System process is seen as being one way, with little feedback to staff who enter the events.

More than 600 staff took part in the review process, which included looking at documentary evidence, interviews, focus groups and responses to a staff survey.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-07/lag-in-autism-diagnosis-years-behind-other-countries/8099168

Australian children are missing out on vital early treatment for autism spectrum disorder because of a lag in diagnosis, according to the Australian Medical Association.

The AMA said the ideal age for diagnosing children with the disorder is two but in Australia it often does not occur until a child is five or six years old.

The president of the AMA, Dr Michael Gannon, said early diagnosis was critical.

The AMA said slow diagnosis affected the development of tens of thousands of children, and put pressure on families.

Dr Gannon said part of the problem came down to a lack of specialists who could diagnose more complex cases, especially outside of metropolitan areas.

This year, it was revealed there has been an unexpected increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism, prompting an overwhelming number of families to seek support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

That unexpected boom blew out budget forecasts for the scheme.

Dr Gannon said doctors are at a loss to explain the cause of autism, or why it is on the rise, but he has slammed critics who blame childhood vaccinations.

The AMA is calling for greater awareness of autism spectrum disorder, and for increased funding to train doctors and improve specialist care.

The position paper was released by the Australian Medical Association [yesterday] …

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