- The Geneva-based Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) is overseeing the development of the new test, which experts have said will be key to overcoming the Ebola outbreak. FIND director Catharina Boehme described the current Ebola testing procedure as complicated, risky and expensive.
- An external review of a key area of the Royal Adelaide Hospital has found bullying and unprofessional behaviour remain rife.
- An ABC investigation has found some states and territories are poorly resourced when it comes to helping women deal with postpartum psychosis.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 21st November 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health news
A faster and cheaper test to diagnose Ebola is expected to be available by March, health authorities say.
The Geneva-based Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) is overseeing the development of the new test, which experts have said will be key to overcoming the outbreak.
FIND director Catharina Boehme described the current Ebola testing procedure as complicated, risky and expensive.
“It takes about 24 hours to get a result, and most of the testing right now is done outside of the actual countries where the cases occur,” Ms Boehme said.
“That is a problem because it takes many days to get the results back and that causes logistics problems and of course, increases the transmission risk.”
Ms Boehme said there was also an issue with suspected patients being placed in quarantine in tents while they awaited their diagnosis, potentially exposing uninfected people to the deadly virus.
There are several companies working to develop a rapid test for Ebola.
“We expect to have the first breakthrough technologies by end of February and are preparing for implementation at this point by setting up training centres,” said Ms Boehme.
“We think that the first new test will reach the countries in March 2015.”
The new test is also expected to slash the cost of testing from between $100 and $200 per test, to around $10 to $20.
“The new test will mostly be focused on taking blood from a finger prick,” Ms Boehme said.
“There is, for example, an Australian company called Atomo who have developed a very safe way of drawing finger-prick blood, and I expect that that will be part of the breakthroughs that we’re going to see within the next month.
“That will be key to overcoming this crisis.”
Researchers are also seeking safer ways to test for the virus.
“We are also looking… at testing saliva and at testing, for example, sweat,” Ms Boehme said.
“When drawing venous blood there’s always a risk of infection for the health worker.”
In total, Ebola has killed nearly 5,200 people across the world and there have been more than 14,410 reported Ebola cases in eight countries since the crisis began, according to WHO.
An external review of a key area of the Royal Adelaide Hospital has found bullying and unprofessional behaviour remain rife.
The review was done recently, a year after a series of other recommendations were made about merging the work of the cardiothoracic and general intensive care units (ICU).
South Australia’s Health Minister Jack Snelling told State Parliament the latest review had made 20 more recommendations, and all would be implemented to improve the working relationships between various specialists, other doctors and nursing staff.
“The review has found that the central matter of culture and behaviour remained a serious issue and that little progress had been made on the lack of teamwork between clinicians and the ICU and the cardiothoracic unit,” he said.
“Stunningly, the report highlights incidents of bullying, derogatory behaviour and a lack of respect for fellow professionals within and between clinical specialties.
“The reviewers [concluded] that some of the levels of dysfunction are unprecedented and present a real risk to patient care and staff wellbeing.”
He said the independent reviewers found there had been a long-running bullying episode involving anonymous notes about some nurses.
“I find this kind of abuse of authority over the hardest-working patient carers reprehensible,” the Minister said.
“This sort of behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated in a school yard and I won’t tolerate it in the ICU.”
Mr Snelling said the safety of patients was pivotal to all work done in the health sector and internal dysfunction must never be allowed to have an impact.
He said a new head of intensive care, Dr Gerry O’Callaghan, and a new head of the cardiothoracic area, Dr Matt Hooper, had been appointed and they would work with nursing executive Dr Tina Jones to fix the problems identified.
More than 600 Australian women each year suffer crippling pregnancy-related psychosis, but many states do not have hospital beds to treat the condition.
An ABC investigation has found some states and territories are poorly resourced when it comes to helping women deal with postpartum psychosis.
NSW, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are the worst, with no dedicated public hospital beds for helping new mothers with the debilitating condition.
In other states, advocates say there are few beds and long waits for treatment.
Post-partum psychosis, or puerperal psychosis, is the most extreme form of post-natal depression.
It has long been recognised as a condition and affects about one in every 500 mothers.
It can develop during pregnancy or in the months following giving birth.
Experts say there are a number of theories about its causes including genetic predisposition, underlying conditions, hormone changes, sleep cycle interruptions and inflammation.
Women who develop the condition often need hospitalising. In those cases, the best option is special care that allows them to bring their baby into hospital so they can continue to bond with the child.
Advocates have used Postnatal Depression Awareness week this week to reissue their call for better treatment services for women and children.
Professor Boyce said NSW did not have the capability to admit the mother and baby together in a psychiatric facility.
He said he had been told it was impossible because of safety and cost, despite other states having beds.
There are 12 private hospital beds in NSW but they are only available to those with insurance.
Professor Boyce has called for four to six-bed mother-and-baby units scattered across the state that link with services.
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