The News – 25 July 2014

Overview

  • Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has hit out at his suspension by the Australian Medical Board (AMA) as a “dirty little midnight assassination,” saying he had very little to do with a 45-year-old Perth man who took his own life.
  • The most common pain reliever for back pain, paracetamol, does not work any better than a placebo, according to a new study published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet.
  • Canberra has the quickest average ambulance response times of all Australian capital cities for life-threatening emergencies, according to an independent report.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 25th July 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-24/philip-nitschke-hits-out-at-midnight-assassination/5620772

Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has hit out at his suspension by the Australian Medical Board (AMA) as a “dirty little midnight assassination,” saying he had very little to do with a 45-year-old Perth man who took his own life.

The AMA last night suspended Dr Nitschke after the he supported Nigel Brayley in his decision to commit suicide, despite knowing he was not terminally ill.

Mr Brayley, who was not an obvious euthanasia candidate, died in May this year after taking the euthanasia drug Nembutal, which he illegally imported.

Police were treating the 2011 death of Mr Brayley’s wife Lina as a murder case, but Mr Brayley was never named as a suspect.

Mr Brayley approached Dr Nitschke about ending his life, but Dr Nitschke said it was not his role to intervene and the pair never had a doctor-patient relationship.

“He was not my patient. He was not depressed and… he did not seek or want my advice.”

Dr Nitschke referred to Mr Brayley as an “alleged serial killer”.

Police Media in Perth has stated that the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms Brayley are still being investigated by the Major Crime Squad.

Police also say the death of Mr Brayley will be the subject of a coronial inquest and there will be no further comment.

The AMA last night used emergency powers to immediately suspend Dr Nitschke, saying he “presents a serious risk to public health and safety”.

Dr Nitschke will appeal against the decision, which he says is purely political.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-24/paracetamol-may-not-be-effective-for-back-pain-study-reveals/5620166

The most common pain reliever for back pain, paracetamol, does not work any better than a placebo, according to a new study published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet.

Guidelines around the world recommend that doctors treat back pain with paracetamol, but the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney conducted a trial after being unable to find good scientific evidence that paracetamol was effective.

Their trial involved 1,600 people who had recently been diagnosed with acute back pain.

One group received a placebo, another was told to take paracetamol as needed and a third received regular extended-release paracetamol three times a day.

“Surprisingly we found that it didn’t really matter whether you gave people a placebo, paracetamol or time-contingent regular paracetamol, there was no difference in any of the outcomes,” said Professor Chris Maher who led the study.

“It didn’t speed time to recovery; it didn’t improve their pain; it didn’t improve their disability.”

Professor Maher also says the jury is out on whether paracetamol works for other conditions.

Professor Maher says one theory he tested was that people were not taking the appropriate dose.

Professor Maher also says evidence is weak that other non-steroidal alternatives such as ibuprofens are any more effective to treat back pain.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-24/review-finds-act-ambulance-response-times-the-quickest/5619786

Canberra has the quickest average ambulance response times of all Australian capital cities for life-threatening emergencies, according to an independent report.

The report also identified significant improvements across all areas of the ACT Ambulance Service over the past four years.

In 2009, the then ACT Auditor-General Tu Pham issued a scathing review of the Territory’s ambulance service, which said poor response times and resources were not keeping pace with demand.

The latest review, by consultant Grant Lennox, found the ambulance service was now in a much better position.

It found paramedics in Canberra were, on average, the quickest to respond to a “code-one” or life-threatening emergency in an average time of 13.7 minutes.

Brisbane response times were the next fastest with crews responding in an average time of 14.9 minutes.

The official ACT target for ambulance response times is 12.5 minutes or less.

The report also noted improvements in communications, staff management, frontline emergency responses, patient safety and complaints handling since the ACT Government provided a $35million funding boost.

ACT Ambulance Service chief officer David Foote said the budget boost had made a measurable difference to front-line services.

Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell said the report demonstrated significant financial investment from the ACT Government had led to major improvements.

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