• Influenza cases in South Australia have doubled this year with elderly people among the worst affected.
• A senior surgeon at one of Australia’s most prestigious teaching hospitals is under investigation after being accused of bullying colleagues and intimidating nursing staff over a period of years.
• A new trial at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital will see cancer patients’ own tumours used as a starting point for a personalised vaccine
Health News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 26th May 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Influenza cases in South Australia have doubled this year with elderly people among the worst affected.
Some 1,519 cases of influenza have been recorded so far, compared with about 700 at the same time in 2014.
Outbreaks have been reported at 15 aged care facilities, with a delay in flu vaccine production blamed as a potential culprit behind the spike.
Chief medical officer Paddy Philips said production delays were caused by the need to add two new strains to the vaccine this year.
“The flu vaccine arrived a bit later than normal in March and April and, possibly because that’s led to some delays, it’s led to an early start to the flu season,” he said.
People aged 65 and over accounted for more than 37 per cent of the cases reported so far.
State Health Minister Jack Snelling said there may be more cases because it was not mandatory to report them.
“The flu season seems to be hitting very early this year, which is always ominous,” he said.
“It concerns me a great deal about our emergency departments going into the winter season.”
SA Health said it had plans for separate flu clinics within public hospitals should the spread of influenza worsen over winter.
A senior surgeon at one of Australia’s most prestigious teaching hospitals is under investigation after being accused of bullying colleagues and intimidating nursing staff over a period of years.
… an internal investigation at Melbourne’s Monash Medical Centre was triggered after serious allegations of bullying behaviour towards registrars and nursing staff were recorded in a formal complaint lodged by one of the registrars, who is now a consultant.
The senior surgeon in question is neurosurgeon Helen Maroulis.
In March the hospital’s administration decided that the allegations against Dr Maroulis were unsubstantiated, but the ABC understands that fresh inquiries are now underway.
In an email seen by Four Corners, a theatre nurse told the hospital’s administration: “Many of the nurses are afraid of her.”
Four Corners has also spoken to other colleagues of Dr Maroulis, who say that they too were bullied.
Four Corners understands that a separate, independent investigation is being held into Dr Maroulis’ clinical performance.
The outcome of that investigation has not yet been determined, and Monash Medical Centre has not released the conclusions of a report written by two senior surgeons from outside the hospital, which analysed some of the operations carried out by the surgeon.
Dr Maroulis still works at Monash Medical Centre, but is not performing operations.
A new trial at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital will see cancer patients’ own tumours used as a starting point for a personalised vaccine.
The human trial comes after research was undertaken with dogs at the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, which is based at Royal North Shore Hospital.
The trial used personalised cancer vaccines to treat dogs that had been diagnosed with advanced cancers.
The results showed nearly all of the dogs treated exceeded their expected survival time and many owners reported their animals had an improved quality of life.
The trial of the human cancer vaccine, known as RGSH4K, is the next step in the research and will involve 21 adult patients.
To be included in the trial, patients must have had their tumour removed and stored in a process known as tumour banking, before they start treatment.
If the patient relapsed and there were no other treatment options available, a personalised vaccine would be produced from their tumour and injected into the patient at staged intervals.
The vaccine is produced from a patient’s own cancer cells and is combined with a proprietary immunostimulant to activate the immune system.
It is hoped the immune system’s memory will recognise and respond to existing and new tumours.
The trial will be conducted under the supervision of Royal North Shore Hospital oncologists Professor Stephen Clarke and Associate Professor Nick Pavlakis.
Professor Clarke said the trial will involve a broad range of tumours and patients who have no other treatment options available.
He said the aim of the trial was for the cancer to be stabilised and for the tumour to shrink, which would ideally lead to an extended life expectancy for patients.
He said if it was successful they would do bigger trials.
People interested in participating in the trial should consult their oncologist about their suitability.
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