The Health News – 13 July 2015


Overview:

• Doctors and nurses who routinely share mobile phones in hospital wards to get laboratory results and coordinate care could be putting the health of patients at risk by spreading disease and infections, a Tasmanian study has concluded.

• Victorian patients at high risk of infection could soon be able to use more potent and effective drugs, following the opening of the state’s first antibiotic allergy testing centre. The clinic has opened in collaboration with Victoria’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and is the second of its type in Australia.

• Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has promised to keep a “watching brief” on the incidence of Q fever – an infectious disease passed from animals to humans – as dry conditions provide an ideal environment for the airborne organism to spread.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the13th July 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-12/doctors-and-nurses-sharing-mobile-phones-spreads-disease-study/6611938

Doctors and nurses who routinely share mobile phones in hospital wards to get laboratory results and coordinate care could be putting the health of patients at risk by spreading disease and infections, a Tasmanian study has concluded.
Medical researcher Dr Foong Yi Chao said smart phones had changed how hospitals operate, but there was a downside.
“Three quarters of phones that we saw actually grew bacteria, out of those a small but significant [percentage], 5 per cent actually, grew pathogenic bacteria that can cause infections,” he said.
Even the most mild of these bacteria can cause gut and blood infections in patients with already compromised immune systems.”

Australian Medical Association Tasmanian president Tim Greenaway said it was a widespread problem.
“Hospital acquired infections are a problem in all hospitals,” he said.

It is estimated that there are about 200,000 healthcare associated infections each year in Australia, making them the most common complication affecting patients in hospital.

The research shows only one-fifth of medical staff disinfect their phones regularly.
“Worldwide there’s no known protocols for phone cleaning, it’s something that’s only been looked at recently… so that’s something that needs to be developed in the future,” said Dr Chao.
Dr Greenaway agreed it was an area that needed attention.

In the meantime the AMA said the research should shock healthcare professionals into disinfecting their phones, as well as their hands.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-12/victoria-opens-first-antibiotic-allergy-centre/6613674

Victorian patients at high risk of infection could soon be able to use more potent and effective drugs, following the opening of the state’s first antibiotic allergy testing centre.
Doctors at the Austin Hospital’s antibiotic de-labelling clinic said of the 20 per cent of people who came to hospital believing they had an allergy to antibiotics, up to 90 per cent of them did not.
Clinic coordinator Dr Jason Trubiano said people would sometimes have had a strange reaction in childhood that was mislabelled as an allergy.
“This can be very limiting if, for example, they think they are allergic to penicillin and they have cancer or need a liver transplant, if you’re allergic to penicillin it potentially excludes many drugs,” he said.
“When people are labelled as allergic we often have to use second-line drugs.
“Any infection in a patient that has a lowered immune system is at risk and in that situation we want to give them the best antibiotics, so if we can remove a penicillin allergy label and give them the penicillin antibiotic to a bug that’s going to work against it, then we want to do that at all opportunities.”
The clinic has opened in collaboration with Victoria’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and is the second of its type in Australia.
Patients with recurrent infections or a high risk of developing one – such as cancer and organ transplant patients – undergo a detailed consultation of their medical history, then an extensive skin-prick test using a few drops of the antibiotic.
If there is no allergic response, patients are given a small amount of the drug under the skin and if the results are still negative, they are carefully monitored after being given an antibiotic tablet.
If all the tests are completed with no reaction, the patient is given the all-clear.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-11/push-for-new-vaccination-campaign-against-deadly-q-fever/6608656

Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has promised to keep a “watching brief” on the incidence of Q fever – an infectious disease passed from animals to humans – as dry conditions provide an ideal environment for the airborne organism to spread.
Q fever can be passed on from almost any animal, but is mostly spread by goats, sheep and cattle.
The early symptoms resemble the flu and include high temperature, sweating, and body aches and pains.
If caught early, it can be treated with antibiotics.
But it has become increasingly clear that 20 to 25 per cent of cases do not fully recover, with sufferers going on to develop long-term chronic fatigue.

Approximately 2 per cent of people who contract the disease end up with a life-threatening failure of their heart valves, and a small percentage die from the disease.

Q fever – the Q standing for Query – is an international disease, identified in almost every country except New Zealand, but Australia is the only place that has an effective vaccine.

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