The Health News – 6 April 2016

Overview:
• About 300 health professionals are calling on the Victorian Government to come up with a strategy to close down brown coal plants in the Latrobe Valley.

• As the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) grapples with how it will move paper medical records from its current site to be available to staff once the new hospital opens, a records agency estimates there could be up to 400,000 paper files from the past two years alone.

• Australian researchers from the University of New South Wales believe they are close to being able to use stem cells to regrow human bone and tissue damaged by injury, illness or old age.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  6th of April 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-05/doctors-call-for-end-to-coal-plants-in-latrobe-valley/7299048

About 300 health professionals are calling on the Victorian Government to come up with a strategy to close down brown coal plants in the Latrobe Valley.

In an open letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, a group called Doctors for the Environment Australia said the plants were a danger to people’s health and caused climate change.

The group’s chairman, Dr John Iser, said he wanted the Government to set a deadline on shutting down plants in the region.

Victorian Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio said a renewable energy plan was being developed to make the switch away from fossil fuels in the region.

The Victorian Government has not foreshadowed any plan to close coal plants in the area, the group said.

After the Hazlewood mine fire in the Latrobe Valley in 2014, an inquiry recommended at least $60 million be spent on a special zone in the area to improve the region’s health.

The inquiry called for a board to be set up to particularly oversee health in the area.

Other recommendations included broadening the scope of a 20-year health study that the Victorian Government set up to track any impacts the mine fire may have on the local community.

Dr Iser said a switch to renewable energy would promote jobs in the region.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-05/royal-adelaide-hospital-paper-medical-records-storage/7298330

As the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) grapples with how it will move paper medical records from its current site to be available to staff once the new hospital opens, a records agency estimates there could be up to 400,000 paper files from the past two years alone.

Health Information Management Association president Jennifer Gilder [stated]… there were protocols for how long medical records had to be kept.

“Most public hospitals need to keep their records at least a minimum 15 years and then some of the private hospitals it might be seven years,” she said.

“But then it depends on whether there’s a mental health record — it might need to be kept longer.

“When you’re looking at children’s records or a newborn you must keep that until the child reaches the age of 18, and then you keep it for a few years after that.”

Ms Gilder has estimated the volume of recent material alone at the current RAH.

“With a paper-based system, say at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, you’re looking at 300,000-400,000 records … alone. That would only be your primary storage for say two years,” she said.

The new hospital, currently nearing completion at the western end of North Terrace in the city, will need to store paper records off-site at a secure facility, a recent memo indicated, because its design had not provided for on-site storage.

The director of State Records in SA, Simon Froude, said it highlighted why agencies, including the state’s public hospitals, were making a transition to electronic storage.

Ms Gilder said medical records were of vital importance for the patient, their treating clinicians, and medical researchers.

Hospitals have clear guidelines about when they can destroy old records but Mr Froude said the hospitals, and other government agencies, currently had a freeze on disposal of any records considered likely to be required for royal commissions.

He said anyone keen to obtain a copy of their personal records, whatever the reason, could directly approach the relevant public hospital or make a freedom of information request.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-05/stem-cell-research-regrowing-damaged-human-bone-and-tissue/7299116

Australian researchers believe they are close to being able to use stem cells to regrow human bone and tissue damaged by injury, illness or old age.

The team from the University of New South Wales said the stem cell repair system works in a similar way to how a salamander is able to regrow a leg or its tail when they are removed.

It is a technique that has the potential to heal wounds, chronic back injuries and bad bone fractures.

UNSW Associate Professor John Pimanda said the technique uses a patient’s own cells so there is less chance of tissue rejection, and removes the ethical concerns surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells.

Associate Professor Pimanda said his team took mouse and human bone and fat cells, and converted them into “induced multipotent stem cells”.

“What’s different about these multipotent stem cells is that once we transplanted them into areas of tissue damage, they seem to demonstrate controlled tissue repair,” he said.

“They only repaired the tissues that are damaged.

“So in these particular models that we used, we damaged muscle [and] bone and the cells were regenerating the muscle, regenerating bone, they were generating their own blood supply.

“And what was most amazing and most important for us is it was context dependent — we were not seeing tissues we didn’t want to see, we were not seeing tumours.”

He said it remained unclear exactly how these cells knew exactly what to regenerate and where.

Associate Professor Pimanda said he and his team were expecting human trials to start next year.

The research has been published … in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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