- Mental health advocates have criticised plans to close acute psychiatric beds at the Royal Hobart Hospital, warning it could expose other patients to violence.
- Australian scientists say a particular strain of probiotics could offer a possible cure for people with potentially fatal peanut allergies.
- The death of a 28-year-old Perth woman has prompted a warning to GPs to remind patients to report contraceptive pill use as part of their medical history.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 29th January 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Mental health advocates have criticised plans to close acute psychiatric beds at the Royal Hobart Hospital, warning it could expose other patients to violence.
The Tasmanian Mental Health Key Stakeholders Consortium, which includes nurses and doctors, said five out of 30 beds were set to close at the hospital.
The Nursing Federation’s Neroli Ellis, who is part of the consortium, said the move was illogical.
“The reduction of five beds without consultation will obviously cause some dire effects,” she said.
“We will see more mental health patients nursed on the acute general medical wards.
“We are seeing now, one of the reasons for the escalating violence on the general wards is that once someone is admitted under an order, but needing medical care, we have got some concerns about staffing levels and the ability to de-escalate in the general ward.
“With the closure of acute mental health beds we will be exposing many more people to that level of concern.”
Ms Ellis also warned there would be a blowout in waiting times.
Consortium member and acting Mental Health Council CEO Elida Meadows said while it did not sound like a lot of beds, it would have a significant impact.
She said Tasmania had a higher rate of mental health bed occupancy than other states.
The consortium wants to eventually see the provision of more acute and psychiatric care in the community, but said the level of support needed did not yet exist.
The Health Department has been contacted for comment.
Australian scientists say a particular strain of probiotics could offer a possible cure for people with potentially fatal peanut allergies.
Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne gave 60 children who are allergic to peanuts either a probiotic along with a small dose of peanut protein or a placebo.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Mimi Tang said more than 80 per cent of children who received the protein and probiotic were able to tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms at the end of the trial.
“This is 20 times higher than the natural rate of resolution for peanut allergy,” she said.
Twenty-three of the 29 children who received the probiotic with the peanut protein were able to eat peanuts after the study.
The effect lasted for two to five weeks after treatment.
The strain of probiotic used in the study was Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Researchers warned the treatment was given under close medical supervision and that some children had allergic reactions.
The prevalence of food allergies has increased in westernised countries. A recent Australian study found 10 per cent of 12-month-old babies and 3 per cent of infants had a peanut allergy.
Researchers said this study was the first randomised placebo-controlled trial evaluating a novel probiotic with peanut protein.
further work was required to confirm whether the children had attained long-term resistance to peanut allergies, she said.
Doctors are planning a long-term follow-up study to see how effective the treatment may be three to four years after giving the probiotic.
Peanut allergies have increased by 350 per cent in the past two decades. It is the most common cause of death due to food allergy.
The death of a 28-year-old Perth woman has prompted a warning to GPs to remind patients to report contraceptive pill use as part of their medical history.
Petra Zele died from complications arising from a blood clot in her lungs in 2010.
Three weeks prior she had presented to the emergency department at Fremantle Hospital complaining of chest pains.
Ms Zele was told by Dr Susan Hinsley that the pain was from muscle soreness and was sent home with painkillers.
Coroner Helen Linton’s report revealed Ms Zele was taking the oral contraceptive pill Yasmin, known to increase the risk of blood clots, and also had a genetic mutation that further increased her risk.
The report showed Ms Zele was asked about her medication history but did not tell Dr Hinsley she was taking the pill.
Ms Linton wrote in her report that “more needs to be done to alert patients to the need to tell their doctor about what they might consider routine medication”.
She recommended GPs advise patients to report use of the oral contraceptive pill when completing a medical questionnaire.
GPs should also ask patients about the pill when they provide a medical history or are asked whether they are taking any medications, she said.
Her recommendations will be forwarded to the WA office of Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
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