The News – 21 August 2014

Overview

  • A Brisbane doctor bound for Sierra Leone to help victims of Ebola says she will be more protected than the international workers who contracted the deadly virus.
  • Dentists say the influence of the private health industry has led to a two-tiered system in their sector and they oppose extending insurance to GP clinics.
  • A commonly-used antibiotic, Clarithromycin has been linked to a significantly higher risk of heart death, but experts are urging caution in interpreting the results.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 21st August 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-20/brisbane-doctor-heads-to-west-africa-to-help-tackle-ebola-crisis/5684312

A Brisbane doctor bound for Sierra Leone to help victims of Ebola says she will be more protected than the international workers who contracted the deadly virus.

Clinical director of anaesthesia at Redlands Hospital Dr Jenny Stedmon leaves for West Africa on Saturday for a month to join an international team of physicians and nursing staff treating victims of Ebola.

Earlier this month, an American aid worker working with the deadly virus while in Liberia became infected.

Meanwhile, two men in Austria who had been hospitalised on the suspicious of carrying the virus were given the all clear.

Dr Stedmon said she would have full body suit, full facial mask and boots.

West Africa’s Ebola epidemic is by far the deadliest since the virus was discovered four decades ago in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the death toll had reached 1,229, with most of the victims in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, with four cases in Nigeria.

Some 2,240 people are also confirmed or suspected to have the disease.

Dr Stedmon has worked with the Red Cross on numerous occasions in various war zones, but usually as part of a surgical team.

When she eventually returns home she will have to remain at home for 21 days for the isolation period.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-20/warning-of-two-tiered-system-if-private-health-extends-to-gps/5684416

Dentists say the influence of the private health industry has led to a two-tiered system in their sector and they oppose extending insurance to GP clinics.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) gave evidence in Sydney at a Senate committee hearing on proposed new laws to exclude insurers from family medicine.

Greens Senator Richard Di Natale has proposed changes to laws in response to a Medibank Private trial in south-east Queensland where insured patients receive preferential treatment.

The trial is operating at 26 clinics and includes priority appointments for patients, after-hour services, and bulk billing.

Senator Di Natale wants to outlaw insurers having any relationships with private practice.

ADA chief executive Robert Boyd-Boland told the committee that private health insurers had long been involved with the dental sector and anti-competitive practices were common.

He said these practices included:

• Refusing some dentists’ requests to become “preferred providers” in areas where they were oversubscribed

• Insurers using other products to subsidise their own “no-gap” dental clinics to sink competitors

• Refusing rebates for arbitrary and incorrect reasons

• Acting as a “de facto dental board” by removing dentists from their preferred providers list if the company disagreed with their practices.

Mr Boyd-Boland likened the situation to bookies owning the track, the horses, the jockeys, the rules, setting the odds and paying the dividends.

He said the association had complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to no avail.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/08/20/4070935.htm

A commonly-used antibiotic has been linked to a significantly higher risk of heart death, but experts are urging caution in interpreting the results.

The large scale study by Danish researchers, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that clarithromycin use was associated with a 76 per cent higher risk of cardiac death, compared to use of penicillin V.

However, the actual number of deaths was small, prompting the researchers to call for further research to confirm their findings.

“The absolute risk difference was 37 cardiac deaths per 1 million courses with clarithromycin,” report the scientists from the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen.

The risk stopped when treatment ended.

Clarithromycin is prescribed to millions of people every year, to treat bacterial infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis and some skin infections.

The team analysed data from more than five million antibiotics courses given to Danish adults aged 40 to 74 in the period 1997 to 2011.

Of the patients, just over 160,000 had received clarithromycin, 590,000 roxithromycin, and 4.4 million penicillin V.

Clarithromycin and roxithromycin are macrolides — antibiotics that affect the electrical activity of the heart muscle and are thought to increase the risk of fatal heart rhythm problems, the researchers said.

No increased in risk was observed with roxithromycin.

Clinicians should not stop prescribing clarithromycin based on this research, said Profesor Kevin McConway, an applied statistician at The Open University.

Dr Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation said it was already known that doctors should exercise caution when prescribing clarithromycin to patients with a certain heart syndrome.

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