Australian Medical News Brief January 2017

January 2017 Welcome to Medshop Australia’s monthly series, News Brief, where we talk about what you may have missed. These are mostly articles we’ve posted in our social media news feeds. We consider them the most newsworthy events in Australian health and medicine from the last month. You will find links to the original articles. Let’s look back and review the top stories from January 2017. As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald while many medical students are looking forward to launching into their studies or enjoying a well-earned break before university starts back again, the concern about an oversupply of doctors in Australia has been raised. The oversupply isn't so much an issue of qualified doctors being able to find work, it speaks more of a shortage of training placements for new graduates and registrars. International students who complete their studies in Australia may be less likely to receive training placements as a result. The oversupply is projected to reach a point where there will be a shortage of 570 training places in 2018, with that number expected to rise to a shortage of 1000 places by 2030. Many people have considered this issue absurd given the limited supply of doctors in rural locations around Australia. A possible solution will be to establish more training opportunities in non-metropolitan locations.

Midwives the delivery choice for growing number of Queensland mums

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As reported by the ABC a growing demand for midwives has been overtaking the demand for obstetricians in Queensland. A midwife model of care operates across 5 hospitals in the state and the demand for this service continues to grow. For about 70% of women visiting these hospitals, midwives are responsible for the prenatal care, the delivery of the babies and postnatal care. Doctors have raised concerns about the sidelining of obstetricians as recent data suggests that approximately 50% of deliveries within these hospitals require an obstetrician to intervene. Some of the benefits women cite for choosing the midwife approach are alternative birthing options such as water birth, aromatherapy, and more natural pain relief methods. Doctors are urging women to be aware of the risks and opt for midwife delivery in a facility where emergency medical interventions are available to address any complications that may arise.

Surprise, you have a new body organ!

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As reported by the New Daily, let January 2017 go down in history as the month we have all been surprised by the discovery of a new organ in our bodies, introducing the mesentery. Until now the mesentery was thought to be a few disconnected structures, the transverse mesocolon, the sigmoid mesocolon, the mesoappendix and the mesorectum. A Recent discovery has concluded that they are actually all part of one continuous organ. “We’ve known about the mesentery for centuries, but treating it as its own anatomical entity may help us further our understanding of the complex causes of disease, or it might not,” Dr. McKay told The New Daily. The mysterious organ consists of a double folding in the lining of the abdominal cavity that anchors the intestines to the abdomen wall. Its specific function is being explored through further research.

Voluntary euthanasia laws to come before NSW Parliament this year

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As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the state of NSW is set to debate the issue of voluntary euthanasia this year. A cross-party group is currently working on the legislation that will set the bill for public consultation as early as February this year. It is hoped to reach parliament in the second half of this year. A hot debate for many years, this bill could see a conclusion drawn that will influence Australia's stance on euthanasia. An early indication from NSW Premier Mike Baird states that while he respects the various opinions on the matter, he will not support a vote to legalise euthanasia.

Pharmaceutical industry financial ties linked to 'positive' outcomes in clinical trials for new drugs

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As reported by the Canberra Times, a new study published in the British Medical Journal has found links between medical researchers financial ties with pharmaceutical companies and 'positive' results from trials. The study focused on 195 clinical drug trials from 2013 that centred on drug efficacy because these trials had a larger impact on clinical practice and healthcare costs. Financial ties are common and inevitable in these scenarios, however, this study has also raised concerns about the influence of industry, study design, methods, results, and interpretations. Researchers including Lisa Bero from the University of Sydney have urged that researchers only participate in industry-funded trials if public data is released disclosing financial ties and sponsors to maintain transparency.
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