The Health News – 29 February 2016

Overview:
• Queensland patients could be given access to medicinal marijuana before the end of the year, under a plan to be put before State Parliament.

•  The health of residents in Port Hedland’s west end could be adversely affected by long-term exposure to dust in the area, a West Australian Government-commissioned report has found.

• Technology experts say a plan to digitise hospitals was destined to fall short, and their warnings were ignored. With pockets full from the mining boom, Western Australia sunk billions of dollars into the introduction of “new hospital IT” — trying to bring hospitals into the 21st century and make paper records disappear.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 29th February 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-28/medicinal-marijuana-queensland-patients-end-of-year-debate/7206172

Queensland patients could be given access to medicinal marijuana before the end of the year, under a plan to be put before State Parliament.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said there was growing community support for the idea, and he wanted it legalised.

He said the plan, which will be formally released in coming weeks, would strike a balance between the needs of patients and administering the drug safely.

Earlier this month, the Federal Government introduced legislation to allow for the cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Australia.

New South Wales has already established a medicinal marijuana scheme for patients with a terminal illness.

It requires patients over the age of 18 to register for the scheme, with the support of a medical doctor.

Mr Dick said he wanted Queensland patients to have similar treatment options made available to them.

He said legislation could be passed by Parliament within six months, meaning a scheme could be up and running before the end of the year.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-28/port-hedland-residents-health-at-risk-from-dust-report-finds/7205808

The health of residents in Port Hedland’s west end could be adversely affected by long-term exposure to dust in the area, a West Australian Government-commissioned report has found.

Port Hedland is the world’s largest volume port for exporting bulk materials and there have been ongoing concerns about dust levels in the area.

Iron ore, salt, manganese, chrome and copper concentrates are just some of the commodities that pass through the port, and the town’s rapid growth has meant that some residents live in close proximity to the port, in the town’s west.

The report found evidence of “certain health outcomes that show an increase in all-cause mortality and an increase in hospitalisation for respiratory conditions”.

Health Department director of environmental health Jim Dodds said the report reiterated the findings of an earlier literature review which found dust particles, known as PM10, could have an adverse effect on health.

Mr Dodds was unable to say how many people might be affected, but said it was mostly those in the western part of the town.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-28/warnings-about-problem-plagued-digitisation-wa-hospitals-ignored/7202416

Technology experts say a plan to digitise hospitals was destined to fall short, and their warnings were ignored.

With pockets full from the mining boom, Western Australia sunk billions of dollars into the introduction of “new hospital IT” — trying to bring hospitals into the 21st century and make paper records disappear.

Instead, implementing the new technology has been costly and plagued with problems.

It has caused lengthy delays at one major hospital, while systems have been shelved at another hospital because technical glitches posed an unacceptable risk to patients.

Curtin University researcher Shirlee-ann Knight has authored academic papers on health information technology.

She said the complexity of the health system was underestimated and IT systems were never going to live up to expectations.

“A one-size-fits-all approach, which is the way we’ve taken it, in my view just won’t work in a hospital environment,” Dr Knight said.

“It’s inevitable that this would happen and it’s inevitable it will happen again.”

The problems first became apparent at the $2 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital, where technology was supposed to replace paper records.

The plan was abandoned, but not before the opening of the hospital was delayed by more than six months and a committee found the cost had blown out by $330 million.

Dr Knight said she raised concerns in the years before the hospital opened, but they fell on deaf ears.