Doctors still failing to scrub up

The adage that cleanliness is next to godliness may not ring true in the corridors and operating theatres of Australian hospitals.

Only 66% of hospital doctors comply with appropriate hand hygiene, compared to 83% of nurses.

Not only are hospital doctors less likely than nurses to comply with the World Health Organization’s “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene”, but the more senior the doctor the less likely he or she is to wash their hands before examining a patient, local research found.  The study analysed data from Hand Hygiene Australia along with hand hygiene rates reported on the MyHospitals website.

Despite showing improvements since the National Hand Hygiene Initiative began in 2009, it found only 66% of hospital doctors comply with appropriate hand hygiene (up from 46%) compared to 83% of nurses (up from 68%).

A negative correlation was also observed between hand hygiene compliance and the educational status of the doctor.

Apparently doctors are often sceptical of hand-washing guidelines and believe “between patient” hand-washing to be sufficient, ignoring the “inevitability of touching potentially contaminated objects like patient notes, bed curtains, door handles, mobile phones and computer keyboards between patients!

No wonder infections are rampant.

Source:  MJA 2014; 200(9):508-09, 534-37

Rockhampton’s “Dr Disaster” suspended

Dr Antonio VEGA VEGA, aka “Dr Disaster”, accused of botching four operations in Queensland has had his medical registration suspended.

Dr VEGA VEGA has already been stood down from Rockhampton Hospital, far north Queensland.

The Medical Board of Australia said it suspended the specialist urologist’s registration on 9 May 2014 pending further inquiries by Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA) and the Board itself.

MEAG comment: The Medical Board and useless AHPRA only acted when the media exposed the malpractice… typical reaction.

Hep C victims agree to $13.75m settlement

The women involved in a class action against drug-addicted anaesthetist James Latham PETERS for infecting them with hepatitis C have agreed in principle to settle the case for $13.75 million.

The case had been due to go to trial on Monday before Justice John Dixon was told of the proposed settlement.

Dr PETERS and the other defendants had indicated they did not want to pay out all the women in the class action and then have to take part in a trial involving the one victim, but changed their minds on Monday.

Five of the victims were in court for the settlement announcement.  They were later in tears as they hugged each other at their lawyer’s office, saying: ‘‘We’re stronger because we have been to hell and back.  From darkness comes some light.’’

One of the victims, who cannot be identified, said the settlement meant “the end of torment and heartache”.  It’s done and it’s over and we can move on with our lives.  Money will help, it always will but it never really mattered about the money.  It was all about getting justice.”

The victim said PETERS’ actions had torn apart families, including her own.  She said the best thing about the settlement was that she and her 2-year-old son would now be able to buy a house and start a real life again.

There had originally been 50 women suing DR JAMES PETERS, CROYDON DAY SURGERY, DR MARK SCHULBERG (who hired PETERS as an anaesthetist at the clinic and who operated the clinic at the time) and the AUSTRALIAN HEALTH PRACTITIONERS REGULATION AGENCY (AHPRA) for damages for pain and suffering, economic loss and medical expenses.

The class action covered women who had been infected with hepatitis C during pregnancy terminations at the CROYDON DAY SURGERY between June 2008 and December 2009 when PETERS was the anaesthetist.

PETERS, 64, was jailed last year for 14 years with a non-parole period of 10 years, after pleading guilty to 55 counts of negligently causing serious injury to the patients by injecting himself with prefilled syringes of fentanyl – an opioid used in general anaesthesia – in theatre at the surgery.  He then administered the remaining drug to the patients as they underwent pregnancy terminations.

April 28, 2014 – 13:06
Mark Russell

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Lifetime ban for nursing home rapist

A NSW nurse DANIEL MOONEY has been banned for life from healthcare work after he sexually assaulted an elderly nursing home resident who was unable to move or speak.  Last year MOONEY was convicted of two counts of sexual assault on the woman, a high-care patient at a Wollongong facility who had Alzheimer’s disease and had been left speechless and with very limited movement after a stroke.  He was sentenced to 11 years in jail.

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission last week banned MOONEY from engaging in any healthcare work – paid or voluntary – under a provision of the Health Care Complaints Act.

“The possibility that Mr MOONEY may engage in similar conduct on his release from prison poses a risk to the health or safety of members of the public,” the HCCC said.  MOONEY’s duties included caring for and treating the 82-year-old woman, who was under 24-hour care.

MOONEY, 41 at the time, was disturbed by another carer in the patient’s room in the pre-dawn hours of 21 September 2012 at the Marco Polo Nursing Home in Unanderra, New South Wales, according to media reports of police evidence during his trial.

He was allegedly discovered in her room again on 31 October, when another nurse found the patient without her underwear and clinging to the bed rails.  But MOONEY allegedly returned and committed another assault two hours later, police said.

The Wollongong District Court heard MOONEY had admitted to the 2012 attacks and also confessed to assaulting another helpless female resident of the home in 2010.

An incident had been reported to senior staff and management at the time, but police were not informed.  The Marco Polo Nursing Home was issued a noncompliance notice by the NSW Department of Health in 2013 for allegedly failing to report a suspected assault.

MOONEY entered nursing in 1997 and worked at the home from 2004 until 2012.  He was convicted in 2013 will be eligible for release in 2020.


Vale Senator Brian Harradine 1935-2014

Richard William BRIAN HARRADINE 1935-2014

Australia’s longest-serving independent Senator Brian HARRADINE has died in Hobart, Tasmania, aged 79 after a long illness.

Senator HARRADINE was the one and only politician who would listen to us, and we mean listen to the tragedy that was the tainted blood scandal.  He was instrumental in having the Australian Senate Inquiry into Hepatitis C and Blood Supply in Australia in 2004.

Senator HARRADINE read out some things in the Senate which led to the first waves of truth about CSL and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) becoming public.

Senator HARRADINE was only interested in hearing from us direct, not people who purported to be representing us.  We had the facts and not the poly waffle. A great man.  He was incorruptible;  that was the feeling he gave off.  How many people, particularly politicians, are like that?

Here’s a tribute in itself:  Blood inquiry witness faces court action | 3 April 2003

Medical Error Action Group, incorporating The Tainted Blood Product Action Group, salutes Senator HARRADINE.

Failed PIP breast implant replaced with now recalled brand CEREFORM

Faulty PIP breast implants replaced with now recalled brand CEREFORM, hundreds of Australians may be affected
ABC News Online
By medical reporter Sophie Scott and Alison Branley
1 April 2014  18:00 hours

Authorities do not know how many Australian women had faulty French breast implants replaced with a second, now recalled brand.

Last month the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced the Australian distributor of PIP breast implants, Medical Vision Australia, had pulled its CEREFORM implants from shelves following a recall in France.

Despite the recall, Medical Vision are still spruiking the product on their website.

The recall occurred after the French regulator found the paperwork around sterilisation did not meet international standards.

In Australia, the TGA said there had been no increase in infection rates with the implants and there was no health risk.

About 4,800 CEREFORM implants have been sold in Australia since 2009 and while only some would have been replacement implants, hundreds of women could be affected.

Among them is Cairns woman Christine STEPHEN, who was never told her CEREFORM implants came from the same distributor as PIP.

Ms STEPHEN had her PIP implants removed after one ruptured.

She developed a severe infection around her replacement CEREFORM implants and had to be rushed to hospital.

“It had to be all scraped out. I didn’t know whether I was going to wake up with or without a breast,” she said.

While she was understanding about the PIP recall, she is angry the CEREFORM implants have also been recalled.

She has spent $25,000 on surgeries so far and needs another operation to remove scar tissue.

“I cannot understand why a product from the same company [sic] and same distributors was allowed into the country and knowingly put into somebody who had been through PIP,” she said.

CEREFORM was distributed by the same company in Australia as PIP but is made by a different company in France.

Ms STEPHEN refutes the TGA’s assertions there has been no increased rate of infections with CEREFORM.  She says she had an infection and it was not recorded.

“It just feels like there’s been a lot of lies. And a lot of people passing on blame where it’s black and white,” she said.

Medical Vision Australia did not respond to the ABC’s inquiries.

No figures available on CEREFORM replacements.

Authorities say they do not know how many women in Australia had PIP implants replaced with CEREFORM implants.

The TGA says it does not monitor the sale of approved products and relies on information from surgeons and suppliers.

The Australia Society of Plastic Surgeons says it does not have figures on CEREFORM replacements.

Its president, Dr Geoff LYONS, says the latest recall underlined the need for a breast device registry.

“A world-class registry has been developed in Australia and is ready for national roll-out pending government funding,” he said.

PIP removal process ‘traumatic’ for many women

Lawyer Tim WHITE represents women who had faulty French breast implants, and says the CEREFORM recall was following the same pattern as PIP.

“I expect this is a first step they are using so that if there is a problem it’s not further multiplied by continuing to use the product,” he said.

Mr WHITE has clients who had the PIP implants replaced with CEREFORM.  He says the PIP removal process was traumatic for many.

“A lot of the women ended up consulting psychologists because they were that concerned,” he said.

“Some were put on anti-depressant medication.  A lot of women took time off work because they weren’t coping emotionally.

“It was a significant impact on many of them.”

Mr WHITE is concerned regulators have not learned lessons from the PIP saga, with no requirement for distributors to have product liability insurance.

“Here you’re dealing with a class three medical device which is a high-risk device according to the TGA,” Mr WHITE said.

“If these implants have to be removed because there is a fault then… it falls to the individual lady to cover the cost out of her own pocket.  This is the great concern for consumers in Australia.”

TGA says no identified health risk from CEREFORM implants

The TGA says CEREFORM was recalled overseas because its makers did not comply with regulations.

A spokesman says there is no identified health risk but as a precaution surgeons in Australia were notified and surgeries with the implants were cancelled.

“The TGA is not aware of any increased infection rates among Australian patients receiving CEREFORM breast implants and there is no evidence that any of the implants already supplied in Australia have not been sterilised properly,” he said.

Dr Daniel FLEMING from the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery advises the TGA on the implants, and says there is no risk to patients with CEREFORM implants.

“This is a failure of documentation, not a failure of the sterilisation,” he said.

“The TGA is not aware of any increased infection rates among Australian patients receiving CEREFORM breast implants and there is no evidence that any of the implants already supplied in Australia have not been sterilised properly.”  A TGA spokesman.

“The importer, the distributor in Australia, has been duped in the same way everybody else has in these matters.”

Dr FLEMING says patients with CEREFORM are at no greater risk of infection.

He does not use CEREFORM implants.

“All patients who have an implant have a chance of infection, about 1 per cent, so of course there are patients who are going to have an infection with CEREFORM implants,” he said.

“But the risk is no greater with CEREFORM.”

The TGA says if there was to be an infection associated with the implant it would follow the initial operation.

Mr WHITE says it also underlines the need for an opt-out breast implant register.

“There’s no process to be able to alert individuals to inform them of this potential problem,” he said.

“There’s certainly been other cases of breast implants failing and so no this is not the second example of it, there’s certainly been others.”

VIDEO:  Faulty PIP breast implants replaced with now-recalled brand (ABC News)
PHOTO:  Despite the recall, Cereform breast implants are still advertised on Medical Vision’s website (ABC News)
RELATED STORY:  Australian investigation into breast implants after French recall
RELATED STORY:  Founder of French breast implant scandal firm jailed
RELATED STORY:  German company ordered to pay over faulty breast implants

UK hospital poisonings: Nurse charged with three murders

A 47-year-old registered nurse Victorino CHUA has been charged with murdering three hospital patients.  He also faces 31 charges involving 25 other patients at the Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom.

They include eight attempted poisonings, one of grievous bodily harm and 22 of attempted grievous bodily harm (GBH).  CHUA is due to appear at Manchester magistrates’ court tomorrow morning. 

The medic had spent two years and three months on bail after first being quizzed by detectives in January 2012.  the probe followed the death of patients whose drips were allegedly contaminated in the summer of 2011.

CHUA was originally held on suspicion of killing three patients – Tracey ARDEN, 44, Arnold LANCASTER, 71, and Derek WEAVER, 83 – by poisoning.

The latest charges came after he was dramatically re-arrested in a dawn raid on Thursday, 27 March 2014.

CHUA, a registered nurse since 2003, was pictured wearing a camouflage hooded top and black hat as he was led from his home in Heaton Chapel and bundled into the back of a police van.  Several officers were involved in the arrest of CHUA, who had been due to answer police bail on Monday.

In a statement, a Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “A man has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the deliberate contamination of products and tampering of medical records at Stepping Hill Hospital.”

Detectives believe a worker at the hospital injected insulin into saline solution, poisoning 22 patients in June and July 2011.

Former journalist, Bill DICKSON, 82, Linda McDONAGH, 60, John “Jack” BEELEY, 73, Beryl HOPE, 70, and Mary CARTWRIGHT, 89, died several months after it was suspected they were poisoned.

They are among the number of cases being treated as grievous bodily harm.

Police are understood to have obtained new evidence after an investigation which lasted almost three years.

CHUA was barred from approaching any witnesses or attending any medical sites during the probe.

Before his arrest, another Stepping Hill nurse, Rebecca LEIGHTON, spent six months in prison accused of poisoning patients.

All criminal charges against her were later dropped but she was sacked after admitting stealing drugs.  She was suspended for three months by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Adelaide: Ex-midwife banned, fined after homebirth baby deaths

Former Adelaide midwife Lisa BARRETT has been found guilty of professional misconduct and fined $20,000 after being involved in a number of home births where babies died.

The Health Practitioners Tribunal of South Australia also banned Ms BARRETT from working as a midwife, including the provision of almost any services to pregnant women and their babies.  It found that while she had relinquished her midwifery registration in 2011, she had continued to provide services akin to midwifery.  The findings follow a coronial inquest in South Australia into the deaths of three infants between 2007 and 2011 where Ms BARRETT was involved in supervising high-risk home births.  The Coroner found that all three babies would have lived had they been born in hospital by caesarean section.  He had also been made aware of another death in Western Australia where Ms BARRETT had been involved with the birth.

In its judgment the Tribunal found that Ms BARRETT’s conduct was substantially below the standard reasonably expected of registered midwives of her level of training and experience and amounted to professional misconduct.  It said the protection of the public was its paramount consideration and for that reason only health practitioners suitably trained and qualified to practice in a competent and ethical manner were entitled to be registered.

“The respondent is reprimanded in the strongest terms,” the judgment said.

Sydney: Former nurse banned after cosmetic injections lead to necrosis

Former nurse, Ms Jenny TRAN, aka Marie WILLIAM and aka Thi Cuc TRAN, performed a series of injections into a 27-year-old male patient’s face after leading him to believe she was a registered nurse.  She injected an unregistered hyaluronic acid filler into the forehead of the man who came to see her because he wanted a lip enhancement.  TRAN has been permanently banned from providing any injectable cosmetic treatments.  The man suffered necrosis as a result of the procedure.

The male patient visited TRAN for a lip enhancement procedure on the recommendation of a friend.  However, she advised him that he did not need to have his lips enhanced and should have hyaluronic acid injected around his eyes and in his forehead instead.  The man alleged that during the treatment — which involved the application of a unregistered ‘numbing cream’ imported from Korea — he told TRAN that he was experiencing intense pain.

He said Ms TRAN advised him that the pain, along with some discolouration and significant swelling of his skin around the injection sites, was normal and gave him antihistamine tablets to take home.  The NSW HCCC found the antihistamine was likely diphenhydramine under the brand name Paxidorm, which is not available in Australia, and that her supply of the tablets contravened the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act.

The patient became increasingly unwell over the next few days, suffering swelling and redness of his forehead as well as nausea, drowsiness, headaches, diarrhoea and depression after taking the tablets.  He returned to the clinic and was told by Ms TRAN’s husband that the product injected was not Restylane obtained in Australia but a product that had been imported by the couple from Korea or Vietnam.  At a third consultation TRAN returned the $1,000 the man paid her.  TRAN subsequently visited the patient and supplied him with the antibiotic ciprofloxacin 500mg (Cifran) without authorisation.  The HCCC found that TRAN had personally obtained the antibiotic by telling a medical practitioner it was for her own use.

“The evidence also indicates that the procedure performed by Ms TRAN on the male patient was unsafe, incompetent and outside her expertise and training.  The procedure involved the medically unsupervised injection of an unregistered, unprescribed substance into the man’s forehead and glabella region,” the HCCC said.  “This had the potential to cause vascular compromise, or compression or embolisation of the filler material into the man’s vasculature.  The procedure performed by TRAN in fact caused necrosis of the skin, infection and scarring on the man’s forehead, necessitating ongoing treatment to restore the skin’s condition.”

Ms TRAN was found to have committed multiple breaches of the Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Practitioners.  These included providing treatments and medications she was not competent, qualified or authorised to provide and using previous and embellished training qualifications to mislead.  The HCCC also found that Ms TRAN has breached the code by failing to provide treatments in a safe and ethical manner, failing to take safety precautions to reduce the chance of infection and administering inappropriate and potentially dangerous treatments.  TRAN was found to pose an ongoing risk to the health and safety of the public and along with the ban on her providing injectable treatments was also barred from administering or supplying any unregistered or scheduled medicines.

Sydney: Nurses conduct ‘giggle-fest’ at Coroner’s Court

BODINGTON Nursing Home at Wentworth Falls, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, became the subject of a Coroner’s Inquest this week after a resident died following an alleged overdose of morphine by a registered nurse.  The resident, 84 year old Mrs Sybil Zimmerman, died on 15 May 2011 after being transferred by ambulance in a comatose state to the Blue Mountains District Hospital in Katoomba.

Current and past nurses in the employ of BODINGTON aged care facility conducted themselves in an unprofessional and contemptible manner.  They appeared to be flippant and unconcerned that the inquest related to the circumstances of a person’s death.

Not only were the nurses and their companions discussing the evidence in loud whispers disrupting the public gallery, they, after the Coroner had ordered nurses who had not given evidence to leave the courtroom, went on to feed evidence being heard to their companion nurses outside the courtroom at regular intervals.  The conduct of the nurses and their intimidatory tactics were reported to the Registrar of the Coroner’s Court.

On the 4th day of Inquest, a number of nurses deliberately and intentionally engaged in intimidatory behaviour by spreading themselves around the public gallery including sitting with and surrounding the deceased’s family while one family member was waiting to complete giving evidence.

The Coroner interrupted proceedings to address the Court about the conduct and reactions of nurses and that their ‘ripples of laughter’ throughout the courtroom were unacceptable.  They were reminded that their presence in the courtroom be mute.

The disruptive conduct by RN Rosemary CHAPLIN, RN Elizabeth HANDLEY, RN Charlotte TILY and RN Linda VERITY, carer Mary PINKERTON, three of their counterparts from BODINGTON Nursing Home, plus several companions, was ordered to cease.

The nurses’ scant regard for court protocols and their unprofessional conduct illustrated that they conduct themselves in their day-to-day nursing jobs in the same manner.