17 January 2017

Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in Australian public hospitals

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released a new report: Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in Australian public hospitals 2015-16: Australian hospital statistics.
SAB is a serious bloodstream infection that may be associated with hospital care and hospitals aim to have as few cases as possible. In 2015–16, 1,440 cases of hospital-associated Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) were reported in Australian public hospitals, well below the national benchmark.

Sepsis Early Alert Tool

Recent data from the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) adult database
show that sepsis accounts for 11% of admissions to ICU. The Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines in Australia recommend administration of appropriate antibiotics within 1 h in patients with severe sepsis. A recent study evaluated the effect of introducing a Sepsis Early Alert Tool (SEAT) in the ED. Outcomes were antibiotic timing, antibiotic choice and obtaining adequate blood cultures. The introduction of a SEAT in the ED is associated with earlier recognition of severe sepsis and improvements in quality of care.

IDREES, Marwan; MACDONALD, Stephen PJ; KODALI, Kiren.  (2017) Sepsis Early Alert Tool: Early recognition and timely management in the emergency departmentEmergency Medicine Australasia, 28(4), 399-403 (available full text on CIAP or contact your library) 

Are our busy doctors and nurses losing empathy for patients?

A series of articles on lack of empathy has been published by The Conversation. The most recent written by Sue Dean, lecturer in the Faculty of Health at UTS, Sydney looks at what empathy is and why our doctors and nurses have decreased empathy for patients.
Empathy is fundamental to effective communication. For doctors and nurses, this means placing the patient at the centre of care. This skill leads to increased levels of satisfaction not only in patients but also the doctors and nurses. Importantly, it is also associated with improved patient outcomes.

Dean, Sue. University of Technology (2017) Are our busy doctors and nurses losing empathy for patients? [online], The Conversation
Read the rest The Conversation articles on empathy here.    

Five Tips to Help Someone who Hoards

This short online guide on the SANE Australia website written by one of Centre Advisors, Gina Bennet, breaks down the steps to helping a hoarder. Hoarding behaviour is less about the accumulation of ‘stuff’, but more so the meaning people attach to these items or objects. It recommends an ABC podcast to listen to, a self-help book and self-help support groups.

Five tips to help someone who hoards. Gina Bennett, SANE Australia 2016. 

Improving end-of-life care in Australia

Australia faces an increasing demand for EOL(End of Life) care due to an ageing population and increasing rates of chronic disease. Two-thirds of Australians die between the ages of 75 and 95, and while most of these deaths are expected, the Australian Centre for Health and Research (ACHR) has recently reported that the care most Australians receive at EOL often does not reflect their values, goals or informed choices.
The intention of this brief from the Deeble Institute is to raise awareness of the issues surrounding EOL care and to provide recommendations on what can be done to facilitate discussions on these issues among consumers and all sectors of the health system. 

Jones A, Silk K, Improving End-of-Life Care in Australia. Canberra: Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association; 2016. Deeble Institute Evidence Brief No 19

22 December 2016

BMJ Christmas issue

It's always fun at this time of year to have a look at the more lighthearted issue BMJ puts out each Christmas.  This year's offerings include:

Top ten most discussed journal articles of 2016

Altmetrics tracks mentions of scientific journal articles in news stories, blog posts, tweets, Facebook and other social media sites, in order to establish the wider "impact" of scientific literature outside academia. They have published their Top 100 articles for 2016, which includes a large number of health articles (with links):

  • Number one is Barak Obama's article in JAMA on US health care reform
  • Number two is an article in BMJ, about medical error being the third leading cause of death in the US
  • Number five is another JAMA article about the sugar industry and coronary heart disease
  • Number six was from NEJM about Zika Virus and birth defects
  • Number seven, again from JAMA, was related to the association between income and life expectancy in the US

Elective surgery waiting times 2015-16

In 2015–16 almost 712,000 patients were admitted to Australian public hospitals from elective surgery waiting lists, either as elective or emergency admission, according to this report from the AIHW, Elective Surgery Waiting Times 2015-16: Australian hospiital statistics

Admissions from public hospital elective surgery waiting lists has increased by 2.4% on average each year since 2011. The most common surgical specialties for admitted patients were General surgery and Orthopaedic surgery, accounting for 38%. The most common surgical procedure for admissions from public hospital elective surgery waiting lists was Cataract extraction.

Between 2011–12 and 2015–16 (excluding the Australian Capital Territory), the overall median waiting time was relatively stable and was 37 days in the most recent report.  

15 December 2016

Boating and watercraft drowning deaths

The Royal Life Saving Society has just released the report, Boating and watercraft drowning deaths: 10 year analysis report, which shows that 473 people drown in Australian waterways between 2005 and 2015,

Males accounted for 92% of all boating and watercraft related drowning deaths, even higher than the annual percentage of all male drowning deaths (83%) for 2015/16,  Almost one fifth of boating and watercraft drowning deaths (19%) occurred in people over the age of 65 years. Drowning occurred whilst fishing (28%) and when moving (27%), and most often in small powered boats under 5 meters or paddle craft. The study found that only 8% of people were wearing a lifejacket at the time of death, 31% had consumed drugs, of which 31% were illegal drugs; 26% of people had alcohol in their system, with 59% above the legal driving limit.

Fixing rural and remote health

This National Press Club Address, Fixing Rural and Remote Health, outlined key reform priorities in rural and remote health, including the need for greater fairness for the seven million people who live in rural and remote Australia. If disparities in health outcomes between people from rural and remote areas and people from cities can be addressed, there is potential for increased productivity and economic growth.

The speakers on November 22 were Geri Malone, Chair of the National Rural Health Alliance; Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torrs Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives; and Martin Laverty, CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

Healthy Communities - Obesity and smoking rates in Australia

Two new reports from the Healthy Communities series have been released by the Australian Government.  Both are well-illustrated with infographics and easily accessible.

Healthy communities: overweight and obesity rates across Australia, 2014-15 presents local rates of overweight and obesity by Primary Health Network areas, which in 2014-15 ranged from 53% in Northern Sydney to 73% in Country South Australia. There were higher rates for people in regional areas than in cities.  

Healthy communities: Tobacco smoking rates across Australia 2014-15 shows that although national smoking rates have been steadily declining in recent years, there are some local areas where smoking rates remain relatively high. In 2014-15, daily smoking rates ranged from 5% in Northern Sydney to 23% in Western NSW and that regional PHN areas generally had higher smoking rates than metropolitan PHN areas. Across Australia in that period, 14.5% of adults smoke daily.

Management of multimorbidity and polypharmacy in Australia

Published recently in the journal Age and Ageing, this Australian qualitative research aimed to explore the overall healthcare team implementation of best practice for patients with multimorbidity and polypharmacy.  Most of the health care professionals interviewed "did not routinely use structured approaches to incorporate patients’ preferences in clinical decision-making, address conflicting prescriber advice, assess patients’ adherence to treatment plans or seek to optimise care plans".  The authors conclude that there are extensive shortcomings in team-based care for the management of these patients and suggest that delegating coordination to specific health care professionals may support their overall care.

McNamara, K.P. et al. (2016). Health professional perspectives on the management of multimorbidity and polypharmacy for older patients in AustraliaAge and Ageing, DOI:10.1093/ageing/afw200   

Consumer companion guide to dementia care

Alzheimer's Australia launched its Consumer Companion Guide: Diagnosis, treatment and care for people with dementia last month.  It lays out the level of care that people with dementia and their carers and families should expect, and is based on the Clinical Practice Guidelines and Principles of Care for People with Dementia that were developed earlier in the year. 

Both documents were produced in a collaborative project between people living with dementia, carers, researchers and clinicians that was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre.

Suicide in the Australian Defence Force

In response to public interest and concern about the incidence of suicide in Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has published this fact sheet: Incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel 2001-2014.

The data shows that between 2001 and 2014, there were 292 suicide deaths of people who had served with the ADF.  Of these, 84 were serving full-time, and 272 were men.  Comparing the men with all Australian men, this was lower for men serving full-time or in the reserve, and higher than the general population for ex-serving men.

08 December 2016

Youth survey report

Almost 22,000 peope aged between 15 and 19 completed this survey from Mission Australia. Compared to previous surveys, more young people are reporting concerns about drugs and alcohol, mental health issues and discrimination. The leading causes of discrimination concerns were gender and race/cultural background.

The Youth Survey Report 2016 was consistent with previous years in that young people nominated coping with stress, school or study problems and body image as their top three issues of personal concern.  Catherine Yeomans, the CEO of Mission Australia, commented in her introduction that "It concerns me that mental health continues to grow as an issue of concern for Australia. There are some wonderful youth mental health programs and a range of support services. We must ensure these continue to be funded, adequately supported and accessible."