The News – 18 August 2014

Overview

  • Medical experts are discovering more on the dangerous effects of repetitive concussions, as repeated blows to the head continue to claim the careers of several high-profile athletes.
  • An inquiry into the recent spate of suicides among fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers in Western Australia is increasingly likely after a parliamentary motion introduced by Labor won Liberal backing.
  • University of California San Francisco Researchers studied charges for a variety of tests at 160 to 180 California hospitals in 2011 and found a huge variation in prices.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 18th August 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-17/new-technology-aiming-to-protect-athletes-from-repeat-concussion/5676538

Medical experts are discovering more on the dangerous effects of repetitive concussions, as repeated blows to the head continue to claim the careers of several high-profile athletes.

Groundbreaking research is underway at the Australian Institute of Sport’s (AIS) Combat Centre, part of studies by physiologists from the University of Canberra (UC) , that literally gives the red light to athletes that have suffered too severe a head-knock.

“The capacity we have with technology now for miniaturisation, producing accelerometers, which measure changes in movement very quickly can now be made in incredibly small devices,” UC’s Gordon Waddington said.

The device, which can be fitted to any athlete’s headgear without impacting performance, can measure the impact of a blow to the head.

It indicates the force of the blow by flashing green, orange, or red in order of severity.

The technology is in its infancy but is the first in what is sure to be a long line of devices aiming to protect players from repetitive concussions.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-17/fifo-suicide-inquiry-likely-with-wa-parliament-union-support/5676340

An inquiry into the recent spate of suicides among fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers in Western Australia is increasingly likely after a parliamentary motion introduced by Labor won Liberal backing.

Labor had called on the Education and Health Parliamentary Standing Committee to look into the reasons behind nine deaths over 12 months.

Three major unions have also issued a joint statement supporting an inquiry.

Committee chair and Liberal MP Graham Jacobs said he wanted to begin an inquiry as soon as possible.

His Liberal colleague and fellow committee member, Rob Johnson, said the motion should receive parliamentary support in the coming week.

Mr Johnson said the inquiry could look at whether resources companies could do more to address the issue.

Mr Johnson said the inquiry would look at how FIFO workers could be supported.

In a statement calling for the inquiry, WA state secretary of the Australian Metal Workers Union (AMWU) Steve McCartney said nine suicides in 12 months could only be described as a “crisis”.

“But even that tragic figure fails to capture the full extent of the FIFO lifestyle’s disruptive impact on Western Australian families,” he said.

“The FIFO industry is a vital and growing part of the WA economy, making it even more important to understand the challenges and long-term impacts of the FIFO lifestyle.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/08/15/a-10000-blood-test-yes-really/

Imagine walking into a hospital and being charged more than $10,000 for a blood test to check your cholesterol level. And going to another hospital in the same state and being charged $10 for the exact same blood test. That’s what a team led by a University of California San Francisco researcher found when it looked at the prices California hospitals charge for 10 common blood tests.

Researchers studied charges for a variety of tests at 160 to 180 California hospitals in 2011 and found a huge variation in prices. The median charge for a basic metabolic panel, which measures sodium, potassium and glucose levels, among other indicators, was $214. But hospitals charged from $35 to $7,303, depending on the facility. None of the hospitals were identified.

The biggest range involved charges for a lipid panel, a test that measures cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid), in the blood. The median charge was $220, but costs ranged from a minimum of $10 to a maximum of $10,169. Yes, more than $10,000 for a blood test that doctors typically order for older adults, to check their cholesterol levels.

The smallest range in charges was for a blood test that checks for a protein that signals for muscle inflammation. It cost $10 to $628.

The study was published Friday in the British Medical Journal Open.

Senior researcher Renee Hsia, associate professor of emergency medicine at UCSF and director of health policy studies at the Department of Emergency Medicine, studies disparities in health costs. But even Hsia, who is also an emergency physician at San Francisco General Hospital, was taken aback at the differences.

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