Adelaide: BreastScreen SA failed to detect 72 cancers

BREASTSCREEN SA failed to detect 72 cancers between 2010 and 2012, due to reduced recall rates, a system-wide review into digital mammography screening has found.

The independent review, released 29/5/13, was conducted by Associate Professor Warwick Lee, BreastScreen NSW’s state radiologist, after BreastScreen SA found that 95 fewer cancers than expected were identified between 6 September 2010 and 30 June 2012.

13 radiologists reviewed 53,104 sets of digital screening mammograms and recalled 540 women for screening.

The review found 72 cancers were potentially detectable at the time of initial screening and 56 of these were found in the re-reading process.  The remaining 16 were interval cancers diagnosed outside the screening program.  The majority of the women who were found to have breast cancer were diagnosed in the early stages of disease.

The review found that lower than ideal recall rates were the major cause of reduced cancer detection rates, with reading practices and image quality also contributing.

29 May 2013

Queensland medical board sacked

At last a politician means what he says.  Queensland Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg has sacked the remaining members of the Queensland Medical Board and an interim board is now in place.  The remaining members of the QMB who had not resigned last month were sacked 2 weeks ago.

Criticism outlined in the Forrester Report, tabled in the Queensland Parliament, accused the board of leniency towards doctors and delays in processing complaints related to the whole board.

A majority of the members resigned last month after Minister Springborg subsequently asked all members to show why their positions were still tenable.

The Medical Board of Australia announced today that interim arrangements have been put in place to manage the work of the board.

A Queensland Medical Interim Notifications Group has been appointed to deal with notifications about practitioners’ conduct and performance and registrations will be managed by board and committee members from NSW.

Minister Springborg’s office said a replacement board for Queensland would be appointed by the minister and was expected to be in place in about two months.

23 May 2013

Marseille: PIP breast implant firm denies fraud over faulty implants

Lawyers for the French breast implant firm PIP have used the final day of a fraud trial to deny knowingly making faulty implants. The incident sparked health scare affecting thousands of women around the world.

In closing arguments at the court in Marseille, lawyers for the five PIP executives on trial defended the implants’ safety, and called for lighter sentences than the four years of jail requested by prosecutors.

The trial, once of France’s biggest legal proceedings in recent history, began in April.

The defendants, including PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas, are accused of aggravated fraud for using cheap, industrial-grade silicone in breast implants for 10 years.

The defendants are:

  • PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas;
  • Chair of the board of directors Claude Couty;
  • Director of production manager Loïc Gossart;
  • Technical director Thierry Brinon;
  • Quality director Hannelore Font.


“A large percentage of the victims had NuSil gel (a medical-grade gel made by a Californian company) in their implants,” Mas said. Mas reiterated that the gel used by his company was “not toxic or dangerous.”

News of the faulty implants broke in 2011 when doctors began reporting an unusual number of ruptures in PIP implants. But health officials in various countries have said the implants were not toxic, nor did they increase the risk of breast cancer.

More than 4,000 women reported ruptures, and in France alone, 15,000 women have had the PIP implants replaced.

PIP implants were soon banned and the company, once the third-largest global supplier of implants, was quickly wound up.

More than 5,200 women joined the class action suit, including around 220 women from overseas.

The month-long trial saw prosecutor Jacques Dallest call for Mas to pay a 100,000 euro fine and to be banned from working in medical services or from running a company.

Some of the defendants, including Mas, have also been charged in separate and ongoing manslaughter and financial fraud investigations into the scandal.

The court is due to deliver its verdict on 10 December 2013.

Article published the Friday 17 May 2013
Reuters/Philippe Laurenson

Missouri: Brain op botched

A neurosurgeon has been accused of operating on the wrong side of a woman’s brain, leaving her unable to speak or take care of herself.

A 53-year-old woman from St Ann, Missouri, filed a lawsuit last month against Dr Armond LEVY and SSM Health Care-St Louis, accusing them of negligence and carelessness.

The woman patient was due to have a left-sided craniotomy bypass but was instead given a right-sided one, according to her lawsuit.

2 May 2013




Half a million Aussies made sicker in hospital

Nearly half a million Australians are falling ill every year in the hospitals they turn to for help.

Adverse reactions to medicines, misadventures during surgery, haemorrhages, blood clots and faulty devices such as stents and joint replacements are adding to the misery of already sick patients.

The number of cases rose by 40,000 in the 12 months to 30 June 2012.

An official tally of mishaps by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found in 2011-2012 almost 340,000 Australians suffered an adverse event in a public hospital.  A further 150,000 had a “health mishap” in a private hospital (those were some of the ones that couldn’t be covered up).

The largest number of medical blunders were abnormal reactions or complications arising from a hospital procedure, with 286,000 patients suffering such problems.

The second biggest group, 151,000, was associated with side effects from drugs.

Another 110,000 had a complication with a medical device inserted during their treatment and 35,000 developed an infection after a procedure.

As MEAG said “hospitals are dangerous places for sick people”.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a public or private hospital.  The message is BEWARE.

11 May 2013

Paris: Breast class action

FRANCE is about to launch one of its biggest trials as five managers from manufacturer PIP face charges of selling faulty breast implants, which sparked a global health scare.

More than 5,000 women have registered as plaintiffs in the case, in which the defendants, including PIP’s 73-year-old founder Jean-Claude Mas, are charged with aggravated fraud for using industrial-grade silicone in implants.

About 300,000 women in 65 countries, including Australia, are believed to have received the implants.

16 April 2013


Queensland: Medical Board must be sacked

To set up a Medical Ombudsman for Queensland?  The Minister is ill-informed.  Queensland already has a Health Quality & Complaints Commission and it is useless.  What will a medical ombudsman do that the HQCC does not and will not do?  Pushing patients into a merry-go-round of bureaucratic departments with no one willing to hold medicos to account.

Queensland medical board must be sacked: Springborg | 18 April 2013

QUEENSLAND’S government wants to sack the entire state board of the Medical Board of Australia (MBA).

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has tabled reports in parliament this week showing endemic problems with the State’s handling of medical complaints.

He said the public wasn’t properly protected from doctors who pose a risk of harm and he will set up a new medical ombudsman for the State.

Mr Springborg has written to 10 members of the Queensland board of the MBA, giving them 14 days to show why their positions are still tenable.

“It’s highly likely that their position is certainly untenable in my view,” he told ABC radio today. “That’s why I’ve taken this extraordinary course of action.”

Sydney: Baby Elijah’s family reject Coroner’s finding


Baby Elijah’s family reject Coroner’s Finding | 19 Apr 2013

Doctors were not to blame for the death of a Victorian baby who was transferred between 5 hospitals before dying from bacterial meningitis, a Sydney coroner has ruled.

Delivering her findings at Glebe Coroner’s Court today, deputy state coroner Carmel Forbes ruled the death of Elijah Slavkovic was due to “natural causes”.

He was initially admitted to Pambula Hospital on the NSW south coast, where the family was on holiday, on April 24, 2009, before being transferred to Bega District Hospital, Canberra, Sydney and finally Melbourne as his condition deteriorated.

In her findings, Ms Forbes said blame for Elijah’s death could not be apportioned to any of the medical staff that treated him.

“Elijah’s story does not reveal that any of his treating clinicians were uncaring or unskilled,” she said.

Outside the court, a patient advocate group described the findings as “disappointing”.

“I think Elijah’s mother and family would be very disappointed in the findings made today by the coroner,” Lorraine Long, founder of the Medical Error Action Group, told reporters.

“No clinicians unskilled?  I don’t think so.  The VMOs of both Pambula and Bega hospitals were unskilled.”

“Why should it take a case such as this to be on the front page of newspapers to make a change in the system?”

Ms Long said that while progress had been made in the health system since Elijah’s death, Bega and Pambula Hospitals remained “very much on the group’s radar”.

“We should have competent doctors in every country hospital,” she said.