The Health News – 7 September 2015


Overview:

• Leading Sydney neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo has backed Senator Nick Xenophon’s call for a Senate inquiry into the medical complaints process. Dr. Teo told Lateline that a culture of bullying went right to the top and that it was destroying the lives of doctors and their families.

• About 250 health professionals from around the state’s north, including doctors and nutritionists, gathered in Launceston for the Nutrition for Life annual forum. Dr Gery Fettke Launceston orthopaedic surgeon said that the forum looked at encouraging the community to focus on preventing problems like diabetes and obesity rather than treatment.

• Brisbane stand-up comic Jenny Wynter also known as Doctor Kerchoo has joined the laughter therapy circuit as part of the Humour Foundation, which aims to ease some of the pain and boredom for sick kids, many of whom are confined to their beds for months at a time.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 7th September 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-04/dr-charlie-teo-backs-call-for-medical-complaints-inquiry/6751402

Leading Sydney neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo has backed Senator Nick Xenophon’s call for a Senate inquiry into the medical complaints process.

[Health News] Dr Teo told Lateline a culture of bullying in his profession went right to the top and that it was destroying the lives of doctors and their families.

Senator Xenophon described the complaints process for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as being “all about protecting a closed shop rather than the best standards of patient care”.

His comments come after Lateline revealed how aFrench spinal surgeon was the subject of a series of complaints and audits which came from other doctors, who were, in some cases, his professional competitors.

Dr Richard Emery ultimately closed his practice and left Australia with his family.

Senator Xenophon said Dr Emery’s case was not an isolated one.

Dr Teo said it was time the system was reviewed.

“I can tell you stories where it has gone that one step further than Richard Emery,” he said.

Dr Teo said a culture of bullying went right to the top of his profession.

“There are unfortunately people that I know who are very guilty of bullying and discrimination, holding positions of authority in those bodies like the College of Surgeons and Hospital Medical advisory boards and expert advisory boards and associations,” he said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-06/tasmanians-targeted-on-the-dangers-of-excessive-sugar-and-proce/6753092

Health professionals are encouraging Tasmanians to educate themselves about the dangers of eating too much sugar and processed food.

About 250 health professionals from around the state’s north, including doctors and nutritionists, gathered in Launceston for the Nutrition for Life annual forum.

Launceston orthopaedic surgeon Gery Fettke said the forum looked at encouraging the community to focus on preventing problems like diabetes and obesity, rather than treatment.

“We’re the sickest or second sickest state in Australia, we’re having a race to the bottom in comparison with the Northern Territory,” he said.

“From my aspect, diabetes is out of control here in northern Tasmania, along with obesity and obesity-related issues.”

Dr Fettke said individuals needed to inform themselves and share their knowledge with their friends.

“Once you start cutting back on sugar and processed food, you hear tales of people losing weight and feeling better, a wide variety of improvements, not just in big health issues, but things like your complexion, your mood, your sleep patterns.”

The World Health Organisation recommends adults limit their sugar intake to six teaspoons per day for the best health benefits.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-05/clown-doctors-keep-kids-laughing-lady-cilento-hospital/6725656

If laughter is indeed the best medicine, then children in one Queensland hospital are being administered a healthy dose by the clown doctors wandering their wards.

Brisbane stand-up comic Jenny Wynter has joined the laughter therapy circuit as part of the Humour Foundation, which aims to ease some of the pain and boredom for sick kids, many of whom are confined to their beds for months at a time.

Ms Wynter, also known as Doctor Kerchoo, has already made something of a name for herself in her industry, but said her latest gig was much tougher.

“I’m a clowntern – that means that I’m doing a clown traineeship basically for my first 50 rounds in the hospital,” she said.

“I’m working under the guidance of other clown doctors. I have a mentor, Lou, or Doctor Wobble, who is there to guide me … to show me the ropes.”

The duo’s special brand of medicine is dispensed liberally to everyone they meet.

Louise Brehmer, also known as Doctor Wobble, said the children always came first.

“One of the core goals of the clown doctor is to make the child the highest status in the room, so we always seek their permission for a visit before entering their space, which I think is really important given that they’re often in an environment where things are done to them,” she said.

Embedding clown doctors into health units could change the culture of the hospital for the better, senior psychologist Dr Alan Headey said.

“We shift towards ‘we need to care for the whole person here, not just their bodies’. And that’s really crucial,” he said.

Dr Headey said clown doctors worked on three different levels.

“First is making kids feel better. … … they forget about their worries for a little while which is just fantastic,” he said.

“The second thing when parents see their kids laughing and playing and coming up with creative idea[s], parents feel better, they feel less stressed.

“The third thing which is sometimes missed … it has a really big effect on staff … we feel less stressed, we feel happier and when we’re less stressed we can play around with patients.

“That helps them trust us better, they have better relationships with us, we can communicate more effectively.”

Dr Headey said previous studies have looked at what worked better at calming children down – interacting with clown doctors or preoperative anaesthetics.

“A clown doctor was more effective than a drug,” he said.
… it does seem to lower blood pressure … it changes heart rate responses.

“Those physiological responses are telltale signs that anxiety is going down.”

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