Specsavers matches Federal Govt’s $1m funding for diabetes screening program

Specsavers is matching the Federal Government’s $1 million funding for the first year of a new national-diabetes-screening program, announced on 13 July.

Both the Federal Government and Specsavers have committed $1 million each for every year of five years – a total of $10 million over the first five years.

Major diabetes and eye-health groups have applauded the program to reduce vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes.

Combatimg diabetes-related blindness

The first such program is a major step in combating diabetes-related blindness and will assist early detection and treatment to protect the sight of over 1.2 million Australians living with diabetes.

Federal health minister, Mr Greg Hunt, on 13 July announced his department’s $1 million in funding for the first of five years, to commence development of the program outlined in a proposal put forward by the diabetes and eye-health groups.

Diabetes Australia will partner with Vision 2020 Australia, Oculo and Specsavers and engage all leading organisations in the eye-health and diabetes sectors across Australia to support the initiative.

Diabetes Australia’s chief executive officer, Professor Greg Johnson, said too many people with diabetes were missing out on eye checks that could prevent them from losing their sight.

Leading cause of blindness

“Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Australians. We are pleased the Australian Government

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By | July 14th, 2018|Health|

RANZCO elects first female president

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists has elected Dr Heather Mack as its first female president.

Dr Mack, will serves as president-elect until the RANZCO 50th Annual Scientific Congress in Adelaide in November, when she will become president, and her predecessor, Associate Professor Mark Daniell, stands down.

A senior consultant with a focus on visual electrophysiology and medical retinal disorders, she is also a senior associate at Eye Surgery Associates in Melbourne

Continuing education

Dr Mack has a particular interest in continuing professional development and headed RANZCO’s CPD committee from 2004 to 2011. As well as being the first woman elected as RANZCO president, Dr Mack was the college’s first female treasurer, serving in the role up until her election as president, and the first female head of the CPD committee.

In addition to her clinical roles and her roles with RANZCO, Dr Mack is a member of Medical Panels for the Victorian government and a clinical researcher, holding the positions of honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Melbourne Department of Surgery (Ophthalmology), honorary research associate at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and honorary clinical associate at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research at the University of Melbourne.

Fusrther developing leadearship role in region

During her two years as president,

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By | July 14th, 2018|People|

Medicos with burnout twice as likely to make mistakes: US study

Medical practitioners (or physicians as they prefer to be called in the United States) with burnout reported medical errors at double the rate of other practitioners after adjusting for specialty, work hours, fatigue and work unit safety rating, according to findings recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 

“A nuanced understanding of the potentially bidirectional connection between physician well-being and patient safety remains in its infancy,” Dr Daniel Tawfik, MD, of the department at paediatrics at Stanford University and colleagues wrote.

6,695 medical practitioners reviewed

Researchers reviewed survey responses from 6,695 actively practising medical practitioners, of whom 55% reported burnout symptoms, 33% reported excessive fatigue and 6.5% recently thought about suicide.

Eleven per cent of all physicians reported a “major medical error” and another 3.9% had a poor or failing patient safety grade in their primary work area during the previous three months.

In addition, multi-variable modelling showed perceived errors were independently more likely to be reported by physicians with burnout (OR = 2.2; 95% CI, 1.8-2.8), fatigue (OR = 1.4; 95% CI 1.1-1.6), and in those who physicians who received ‘F’ grades for safety (OR = 4.4; 95 CI, 2.06-9.28). The most common errors were mistakes in judgment (39%), wrong diagnosis (20%), or technical mistake (13%). Fifty-five per cent of the errors did not affect patient outcome, but 5.3% led

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By | July 14th, 2018|Misadventure|

AI potential in medical imaging and diagnostics revealed

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, and collaborators at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, have developed image analysis and machine learning tools to detect AMD.

In a recent article in Nature Medicine, members of the team discuss the potential of such tools to be used clinically and applied to other image-based medical diagnoses as well.

In 2015, the APL’s Dr Philippe Burlina, PhD, a co-principal investigator for the project, and colleagues teamed up with the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute on ways to automate AMD diagnosis.

In published papers in the JAMA, they demonstrated that machine diagnostics using deep learning can match the performance of human ophthalmologists.

The team has also expanded its inquiry to characterise retinal layers as seen on OCT.

By | July 14th, 2018|Research|

J&J ordered to pay $US4.69 billion to 22 women

Johnson & Johnson on 12 July was ordered to pay $US4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

A jury in a Missouri circuit court awarded $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to the women, who had accused the company of failing to warn them about cancer risks associated with its baby and body powders.

Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Johnson’s Baby Powder, said it was “deeply disappointed” in the verdict and planned to appeal.

The company is facing more than 9,000 plaintiffs in cases involving body powders with talc, according to a regulatory document filed this northern-hemisphere spring.

After a six-week trial, the jury in St Louis deliberated over the compensatory damages for eight hours but decided on the punitive damages in roughly 45 minutes.

Six of the women have died and one of the plaintiffs is undergoing chemotherapy and was too ill to attend the court.

It was alleged Johnson & Johnson had spent 40 years covering up evidence of asbestos in some of its talcum-based products and should mark those products with warning labels or focus on powders made with cornstarch.

The punitive damages are among the largest ever awarded in

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By | July 14th, 2018|Business|

Pfizer backs off 40 drug-price hikes after Trump offensive

Pharmaceutical-drugs behemoth Pfizer has backed off planned price increases for 40 products after pressure from United States president, Mr Donald Trump, during what has been described as “extensive talks”.

Pfizer backed away from the proposed 1-July increases after its chief executive, Mr Ian Read, met with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump wants to leave drug prices at their current levels until the end of the year, when he plans to curb high drug prices so as to provide more-affordable access to needed medicines.

He said in a tweet: “We applaud Pfizer for its decision and hope other companies do the same”.

The president’s attack on Pfizer is the latest instance of him using his ‘bully pulpit’ to challenge big US companies, including this one (Pfizer) that has supported him.

Commentators in the US say Pfizer’s sudden, last-minute reversal shows just how political an issue drug prices have become, even among Republicans, who have long supported drug manufacturers, and why the firms have taken steps to ward off punitive actions by limiting the frequency and magnitude of their price increases.

By | July 14th, 2018|Business|