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Health Bulletin 14 June 2019

The latest insights from our Health Law team.

In this edition:

University of Technology Sydney Deploys AI to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance

AMA president warns of shift towards US-style health care

Report released into the health of Australia’s prisoners

22 year old stonemason is youngest victim in Queensland silicosis epidemic

Clinic fined following charges laid for advertising related offences

 

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University of Technology Sydney Deploys AI to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has announced that it will be deploying artificial intelligence (AI) technology to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in human, animal and environmental contexts. The AI technology is intended to mitigate AMR, which is expected to cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050 and impose a large burden to health systems across the globe.

While the research is currently being led in Australia, the ultimate goal of the project is for it to be deployed worldwide.  The benefits of the AI technology being implemented globally include being able to anticipate outbreaks, ascertain its origins and evaluate treatment options.

The project’s chief investigator, UTS professor of infectious disease Steven Djordjevic, said in a statement that “every city, town, region and country will have a different AMR fingerprint and therefore different risks… if we truly want to track, trace and tackle AMR, we need to know how it develops and is propagated in our environment and our agricultural systems as well as through human-to-human transmission”.

So far, the project has secured a $1 million grant from the government and it is supported by 14 collaborating entities.

For more information about the project, click here.



AMA president warns of shift towards US-style health care

Australian Medical Association (AMA) president, Dr Tony Bartone, has warned that the Australian health system is shifting towards a US-style model, characterised by a patchwork of private and public systems.  According to Dr Bartone, the increasing corporatisation of private health has given health insurers unprecedented power, which may lead to significant variations in care depending on a patient’s insurance cover.  The consequences of this shift could further include increased complications, delayed care, delayed pain relief, and longer hospital stays. 

Mr Bartone described the public hospital system as “stretched so tight” that elective surgeries were being cancelled.  Accusing the government of “making a choice” to constrain the supply of public hospital services, the AMA president called for significant private health reforms.

Responding to these criticisms, a spokeswoman for the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, cited the Coalition’s funding increases to public hospitals of almost $7 billion in the past six years and the new national hospitals agreement, which will provide an additional $31 billion in public hospital funding from 2020-21 to 2024-25.

To read more, click here.



Report released into the health of Australia’s prisoners

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has recently released its report on the state of health of Australia’s prisoners. 

AIHW has been collecting information on the health of prisoners since 2009. They collect data in a range of categories:  demographics, socioeconomic factors, mental health, self-harm, chronic conditions, activity and health changes, gender, disability, smoking and illicit drug use.

The report found that prisoners often felt they received better healthcare in prison than in the community. This is demonstrated by the fact that two thirds of prisoners surveyed had not seen a medical professional in the 12 months prior to imprisonment.

AIHW surveyed prisoners at the time of entrance to prison, attendance at a prison health clinic and when they were released from prison. Prison health workers were surveyed about attendance at a clinic, medications prescribed and the ongoing care and programs provided.

The report can be accessed here. A fact sheet can be read here


 

22 year old stonemason is youngest victim in Queensland silicosis epidemic

Stonemasons who have contracted acute silicosis and other respiratory illnesses from cutting and processing engineered stone benchtops are considering a class action against the manufacturers of the stone benchtops.

Silicosis is a form of incurable occupational lung disease caused by breathing in crystalline silica dust.  A recent audit of Queensland’s manufacturing stone industry revealed, of 98 stonemasons diagnosed with silicosis, 15 were terminal.  The most recent Queenslander to be diagnosed is only 22 years old.

Stopping further exposure to the harmful dust has resulted in diagnosed stonemasons being unable to work in the stone industry.

To read more, click here.



Clinic fined following charges laid for advertising related offences

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) laid 10 charges against The Running Clinic (Australia) Pty Ltd (formerly trading as the Heel Clinic), which alleged that advertising claims on The Running Clinic’s website and social media accounts contained false, misleading and deceptive claims.  AHPRA claimed that the advertising made claims about podiatry services, which were likely to create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment.

The Magistrate hearing the case commented that The Running Clinic showed no remorse and fined the company $30,600.  The company was also required to pay AHPRA’s costs.

The Podiatry Board of Australia has since commented that “ensuring public safety and trust in services provided by podiatrists is at the heart of what we do”.  The Podiatry Board publishes advertising guidelines that are designed to help practitioners when engaging in advertising.

Read AHPRA’s media release here and access the Podiatry Board’s advertising guidelines here.

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