In this edition:

Study finds antibiotics are being overprescribed

A recent study lead by Bond University and published in the Medical Journal of Australia has found that antibiotics are overprescribed to treat certain infections at a rate of four to nine times higher than the national guidelines recommend. In particular, the study found that antibiotics are readily used to treat acute respiratory infections (ARI) such as bronchitis and tonsillitis.

The study found that Australians are some of the highest users of antibiotics in the world, which raises concerns for developing and contributing to the global resistance to antibiotics. The study concluded that prescribing of antibiotics could be easily be reduced by up to 90% if the national therapeutic guidelines are more closely followed.

Read the summary by Bond University here.

FSC life insurance code takes effect

Insurance companies in Australia are now subject to stricter, more transparent consumer protection guidelines as part of the financial services industry’s first ever Life Insurance Code of Practice for consumers and an independent body to ensure members comply with its Life Insurance Code of Practice.

The code covers all aspects of interactions with consumers from product design, buying insurance, regular communications and making claims. It also requires insurers to improve disclosure to customers, provide greater transparency in communications, decide claims within set timeframes, limit the use of surveillance and provide additional support for vulnerable consumers.

The FSC has also developed minimum standard medical definitions for heart attack, stroke and cancer. After the consultation period, during which time the FSC will be seeking the input of external medical specialists, the definitions will be submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for approval.

The FSC said the new definitions have been developed with the assistance of medical professionals and will be under continual review to ensure they are in keeping with advancements in medical science.

More information can be found here.

Doctor identity fraud could not happen today, review finds

A report into the circumstances surrounding the registration, employment and management of Mr Shyam Archarya who fraudulently worked as a junior medical officer in public Hospitals in New South Wales for 11 years has been completed and presented to the NSW Ministry of Health Secretary, Elizabeth Koff.

Mr Archarya was previously found to have falsely held himself out as a medical practitioner and was convicted in his absence on 3 April 2017 and given the maximum fine of $30,000. Mr Archarya obtained medical registration in Australia as well as other Commonwealth documents by using the name and qualifications of a real doctor.

The report made a number of recommendations including that:

  • given changes to the process of international medical graduate entry to the medical workforce in 2008, which now stringently review qualifications as well as require candidates to take examinations, no recommendations were required in this area and that it was unlikely to ever occur again;
  • NSW Health develop a system to electronically retain supervision reports for junior medical officers and annual performance reviews for more senior medical officers; and
  • NSW Health develop documents specifying minimum capabilities and procedural requirements for a doctor to be in charge of a hospital out of hours.

A review by NSW Health on the patients provided care by Mr Archarya found that no harm was caused to those patients.

Mr Archarya’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

Misconduct by employees – when can you terminate?

Mr Archarya’s case is an important reminder for employers to ensure their pre-employment screening processes are thorough. But what happens when an employee misleads their employer during recruitment or employment? In Mr Archarya’s case, NSW had clear grounds to terminate his employment. However, misconduct cases are not always as straightforward. Dismissal can ultimately be the best option, but to reduce the risk of claims against the organisation, employers should take a moment to consider whether it is the right remedy at the right time.

Russell Kennedy’s Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety team have expertise in recruitment processes, and have produced a checklist for employers considering dismissal. Take a moment to review the checklist before taking action, and save yourself time and expense down the track.

To download your free PDF copy, click here.