The Health News – 9 January 2014

Overview

  • A recent report on Victorian hospitals has shown the number of patients presenting to emergency departments has increased significantly.
  • A new Australian study has found that assisted reproductive treatments including IVF are almost twice as likely to result in stillborn births than natural conception.
  • The ACT Department of Health has confirmed the occurrence of several cases of measles thought to be linked to an international dance meeting in Sydney last month.
  • Health Minister Kim Hames says that maintenance at Royal Perth Hospital is not being affected by budget cuts. But several elevators at the hospital have broken down, while others have been temporarily shut down so their parts can be used to repair other elevators.

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Hospital report card shows sharp increase in emergency department presentations – no author listed
A recent report on Victorian hospitals has shown the number of patients presenting to emergency departments has increased significantly. Upward of 14,000 more patients attended emergency facilities in the last quarter of 2013 compared with the previous 3 months. Admissions have also increased, and Health Minister David Davis attributes this in part to patients difficulty in accessing General Practitioner services. He has not shown support for a proposal to enact an upfront fee of $6 at GPs. “We would assess any proposal but I think we want to make it easier to access GPs,” he said. The elective surgery waiting list for the state has decreased for the second consecutive quarter, after peaking at a record 50,000 patients last year. Acting Opposition leader James Merlino says this isn’t good enough. “Still today there are 10,000 more Victorians waiting in pain for surgery than when the Liberal Party came to government more than three years ago,” he said. “The system has shrunk at a time when demand is increasing.”

Study highlights increased risks of stillbirth from assisted conception methods including IVF – no author listed
A new Australian study has found that assisted reproductive treatments including IVF are almost twice as likely to result in stillborn births than natural conception. A research team at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute analysed more than 320,000 South Australian births from 1986 to 2002. These included more than 4,300 births from different forms of assisted fertilisation. The study found that births from these treatments are more than twice as likely to be premature, almost 3 times as likely to have an extremely low birth weight, and twice as likely to die within the first 28 days of life. Study leader professor Michael Davies says outcomes varied depending on the method of conception. He said “What has been accumulating in recent years has been evidence that the outcomes of the pregnancies can be sometimes compromised. The birth weights of the babies are reduced somewhat and the gestations tend to be earlier so the babies are born somewhat prematurely.” He further explained, “What we’ve done in this particular study is to look at some commonly reported perinatal outcomes – of birth weight and gestation and neonatal death – and then compare them across all of the available technologies that are used in an IVF clinic. This has importance for the long-term development of the offspring but it’s also important for the neonatal well-being and, of course, the happiness of the families.”

Measles case confirmed in Canberra after international World Supremacy Battlegrounds dance competition – no author listed
The ACT Department of Health has confirmed the occurrence of several cases of measles thought to be linked to an international dance meeting in Sydney last month. At least 15 attendees of the World Supremacy Battlegrounds hip hop dance competition on December 7 and 8 2013 have been diagnosed with the virus. Over 2,000 people were at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre at Homebush for the event.

Spokespeople for the dance meeting say the spread was linked to a male from the Philippines who had displayed flu-liked symptoms at the competition but was not aware he had measles.

The dance meeting also issued a statement via Facebook: “An adult male dance competitor from the Philippines was infected by measles. According to their team manager, he showed flu-like symptoms on the day of international competition on December 8, but continued to dance after he received cold and flu tablets,” “He was bed-ridden for a few days after the event. He did not know that he had measles until the rashes appeared. “His rashes did not show until he returned to the Philippines on [December 11]. He was soon confined to hospital and isolated for two weeks until he was healed.” Spokespeople from the meet also claimed a South Australian dancer who attended the event was affected. ACT Health says it is also investigating other cases across Australia and New Zealand in people who were also present at the event.

WA Health Minister Kim Hames says budget cuts not to blame for hospital lift maintenance issues – no author listed
Health Minister Kim Hames says that maintenance at Royal Perth Hospital is not being affected by budget cuts. But several elevators at the hospital have broken down, while others have been temporarily shut down so their parts can be used to repair other elevators. The Opposition’s Roger Cook called the current state of the hospital a “chronic breakdown of maintenance and services” and quickly attributed the lapse to budget cuts. However the Health Minister recently told Fairfax News the Government has spent $750,000 repairing the elevators in recent months. He said, “It’s just one of those unfortunate things that happens, there is a lot of money being spent on maintenance, there have been no cuts, and Roger always blames cuts for everything that moves, there have been no cuts that have affected the maintenance schedule.”The minister was not aware of claims of Intensive Care Unit patients being lifted out of elevators because they did not arrive at correct floor height. “If there are patient safety issues at risk, then the funds will definitely be provided to fix those,” he said. “It hasn’t been an issue of money. We’ve got 750,000 [dollars] now, two-million planned this year, and another two-million next year, all for work on the lifts at Royal Perth.”

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