The Health News – 14 March 2016

Overview:
• Patients in rural Australia with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, are waiting as long as eight weeks to get an appointment with a GP. Many have to travel four hours a day for an appointment with a specialist.

• The booming vitamins and supplements industry is a lucrative income stream for pharmacies. But there is, at best, mixed evidence for many of these products. Some pills and supplements have never been independently tested, even to check their contents. The Therapeutic Goods Administration takes manufacturers at their word when it comes to ingredients.

• The first uterus transplant to be performed in the United States has failed after the recipient suffered complications that prompted doctors to remove the organ, the Cleveland Clinic said.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 14th of March 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-13/rural-patients-waiting-months-to-see-gp/7242488

Patients in rural Australia with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, are waiting as long as eight weeks to get an appointment with a GP.

Many have to travel four hours a day for an appointment with a specialist.

The overwhelming demand for health services has led rural doctors to develop innovative models of care to ensure patients get the medical help they need.

Dr Tammy Kimpton is a Palawa woman from the west coast of Tasmania.

She is part owner and works as a GP in a private medical practice in Scone, in the Upper Hunter in New South Wales.

“We have 12 doctors who look after around 12,000 to 15,000 patients in the catchment area,” she said.

At her surgery, a duty GP is on call and patients are triaged in a mini emergency area.

“If patients want to see the doctor of their choice, it can take up to eight weeks, but with this system, there is always a doctor available to see patients who need urgent medical help,” she said.

She said some patients still wanted to wait for their own doctor, but that could have consequences.

Dr Kimpton said one of the big challenges was dealing with patients whose medical problems fall outside the scope of GP expertise.

There have been a number of initiatives designed to boost medical services to people in rural and regional Australia, which include:

  • The Medical Specialist Outreach Program, designed to improve access to specialist services, including Indigenous chronic disease multi-disciplinary teams and multi-disciplinary maternity services teams
  • The National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program which aims to improve access to health services by providing funding to rural and remote communities for essential health infrastructure and equipment
  • The Rural Flying Doctors service has a 24 hour emergency service, primary and community health care clinics at remote sites, doctor and nurse remote consultations by telephone or radio, and provision of medical chests containing an extensive range of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/can-you-trust-your-pharmacist/7239070

The pharmaceutical establishment is fighting a turf war with doctors—pharmacists want to offer more clinical services—but their pitch to be taken seriously as health professionals is at risk.

The booming vitamins and supplements industry is a lucrative income stream for pharmacies. But there is, at best, mixed evidence for many of these products. Some pills and supplements have never been independently tested, even to check their contents. The Therapeutic Goods Administration takes manufacturers at their word when it comes to ingredients. Follow up checks are only completed in some cases.

Geoff March is a lecturer in pharmacy practice at the University of South Australia, and president of Professional Pharmacists Australia.

‘I’m concerned that pharmacies are selling a lot of products where there is no evidence for the claims that are suggested,’ March says.

Pharmacists’ willingness to make those sales—or simply permit them at their store—diminishes their credibility in March’s eyes.

In a Roy Morgan survey last year, pharmacists were named the most trusted profession. Some are now worried that that reputation is on the line.

Adam Phillips, a pharmacy industry leader and an advisor to the Therapeutic Goods Administration on the safety of medicines, is troubled by the current direction his industry is taking.

Complementary medicines should be treated like other therapeutic items and displayed close to the pharmacist, he says. The pharmacist should come out from behind the counter and spend time on the floor advising people.

The federal government is now pouring an extra $2.4 billion into community pharmacies, under last year’s five year Community Pharmacy Agreement. …

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-10/first-us-uterus-transplant-fails-after-complications/7236188

The first uterus transplant to be performed in the United States has failed after the recipient suffered complications that prompted doctors to remove the organ, the Cleveland Clinic said.

“We are saddened to share that our patient, Lindsey, recently experienced a sudden complication that led to the removal of her transplanted uterus,” the hospital said in a statement that did not give the patient’s last name.

She was “doing well” and “recovering” after surgery to remove the organ, it added without elaborating.

The transplant, which lasted nine hours, took place on February 25. Doctors announced several days later that the operation had been a success.

The hospital said it was reviewing why the transplant failed, adding that its clinical trial — which aims to carry out uterus transplants in 10 women — will continue.

Doctors at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg were the first to successfully perform a uterus transplant in 2013.

The recipient gave birth to the first child to be conceived in an implanted womb in September 2014.

The Swedish team has enabled four healthy births to date.

The transplant is temporary, meant to enable women to deliver up to two children over a five-year period.

The transplanted uterus must then be removed to end exposure to drugs meant to prevent women’s bodies from rejecting the transplanted organs.