Health-Insights-Banner-v4-1900-x-500

Health Bulletin 12 May 2021

In this edition: Nutritious and diverse food for Victorian hospitals, Medical Board of Australia case summary: reprimand, suspension and conditions imposed following illicit drug use and a failure to comply with undertakings, TGA releases its Performance Snapshot – Half Year July to December 2020 and New guide to assist healthcare recipients understand their rights. 

The latest insights from our Health Law team:

Nutritious and diverse food for Victorian hospitals

Medical Board of Australia case summary: reprimand, suspension and conditions imposed following illicit drug use and a failure to comply with undertakings

TGA releases its Performance Snapshot – Half Year July to December 2020

New guide to assist healthcare recipients understand their rights 

Learn more about Russell Kennedy's expertise in the Health sector here.

If you'd like to stay up to date with Russell Kennedy's insights, please sign up here.

Nutritious and diverse food for Victorian hospitals

In November 2018, the Victorian Government committed to a review of food standards in Victorian public hospitals and residential aged care services (the Review). The Review, conducted from October 2019 to February 2021, covered foods and drinks in these settings and assessed:

  • The nutritional value;
  • The quality (including taste, variety and cultural diversity);
  • Patients’/Consumers’ experience of the food; and
  • Whether the food was locally produced in Victoria.

Overall, the Review found that Victoria’s public hospitals and public residential aged care facilities provide nutritious food for their inpatients and residents. Despite this, the Review found variability across the state, in the quality of foods provided and patients’/residents’ experience of meals.

In consideration of the Review, the Victorian Government has committed to introducing new standards to ensure the food available in public hospitals and aged care facilities better performs against the abovementioned metrics. Notably, the Victorian Government has stated that the new standards will ensure that “health services respect and celebrate different cultures through their meals – such as kosher or halal food”.

To access the completed Review, please click here.

For the Victorian Government’s press release in respect of the new standards, please click here.

Medical Board of Australia case summary: reprimand, suspension and conditions imposed following illicit drug use and a failure to comply with undertakings

The Medical Board of Australia (Board) was recently successful in an application against a medical practitioner to reprimand, temporarily suspend and impose conditions the practitioner’s registration.

The practitioner was registered and practised as a medical practitioner since 2 January 2012. The practitioner had a history of opioid addiction which started in high school. In early 2014, the practitioner was referred for health assessment by the Board after she was found passed out at the wheel of her car at a traffic light as a result of using heroin. At that time, the Board did not impose conditions on her registration. Instead, the Board accepted undertakings from the practitioner to, among other things, attend random and quarterly drug screening.

The Board made two allegations in its application:

  • that between 2015 and 2018, the practitioner continued her drug use and failed to comply with the conditions she undertook to meet; and
  • that on 15 March and 12 July 2016, the practitioner provided false and misleading information to the Board in relation to her drug use.

The Tribunal found that the practitioner had engaged in professional misconduct and that it was appropriate to temporarily suspend the practitioner’s registration and that the conditions imposed were necessary to ensure that the practitioner is a fit and proper person.

The Tribunal ordered that:

  • the practitioner be reprimanded;
  • the practitioner’s registration be suspended for a period of six months from the date of the orders;
  • extensive conditions be imposed on the registration; and
  • the review period for the conditions be set at 12 months.

You can read the full decision here.

TGA releases its Performance Snapshot – Half Year July to December 2020

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued its July to December 2020 Half Yearly Performance Snapshot (Snapshot).

Of the adverse events reported in the half year, pharmacists accounted for 54% (1,329 cases) of cases reported by health practitioners. A large number of adverse events were also reported by pharmaceutical companies, with a total of 7,978 events.

The Snapshot also noted that, as compared to July to December 2019, the TGA issued less recalls (394 in 2020 as opposed to 426 in 2019) but more medicine recall actions (from 32 in 2019 to 47 in 2020), with the TGA stating that this was “in part due to class wide recall actions for products containing the herbal ingredient, Fallopia multiflora, and non-prescription medicine, bufexamac”.

Other findings within the Snapshot include, that from July to December 2020:

  • Medical devices accounted for the largest number of recalls;
  • There was a large increase in the number of medical devices tested (457 in 2020 compared to 119 in 2019), predominantly due to personal protective equipment (PPE) testing;
  • There were 658 new reports of medicine shortages, with the largest number of these in November, with 123 new notifications; and
  • The new medicine shortage reports were found to be largely due to manufacturer related issues (38%), unexpected increases in demand (18%) and commercial changes (7.5%).

The Snapshot also details a number of trends arising from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, for example:

  • The supply of over-the-counter medicines, including paediatric paracetamol preparations and TGA-approved hand sanitiser products, has been impacted negatively due to impacts on overseas manufacturers and shortages in packing materials and ingredients;
  • A decrease in the number of compliance reviews (42 in July-December 2020 as opposed to 105 for the same period in 2019) due to the diversion of resources required for the COVID-19 response; and
  • A 65% increase in suspected non-compliance referrals since the pandemic was declared, predominantly coming from the Australian Border Force and relating to the importation of PPE or unapproved medicines claiming to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19.
To read the Snapshot, click here.  

New guide to assist healthcare recipients understand their rights

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has published a new guide to the healthcare rights that patients can expect when receiving care and treatment.

The guide outlines the seven rights of care recipients under the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights:

  1. Access
  2. Safety
  3. Respect
  4. Partnership
  5. Information
  6. Privacy
  7. Give Feedback

These rights apply to anyone receiving healthcare in Australia, including in public and private hospitals, day facilities, general practices, community health centres, and dental and specialist clinics.

You can view the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights here.

The new guide is available on the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care website.

How we can help

Learn more about Russell Kennedy's expertise in the Health sector here.

If you'd like to stay up to date with Russell Kennedy's Insights, please sign up here.

View related insights

stethoscope-on-white-background 360 x 240

Can trainees’ personal reflections be used in Court? (Revisited)

17 May 2021

The 2019 case in the UK of Dr Bawa-Garba has raised concerns in Australia and New Zealand for young doctors and trainees.

View
Award ribbon 360x240

Health Bulletin 28 April 2021

28 Apr 2021

The latest insights from our Health Law team.

View
Health - female chemist in lab - Web Thumb

Health Bulletin 14 April 2021

14 Apr 2021

The latest insights from our Health Law team.

View