Less sleep, more labs
‘Another sleep laboratory?!’ we thought after news of John Day’s ribbon cutting on the three-bed Centre for Sleep Science at UWA for a princely sum of $1m. However, enquiries to the boss, Prof Peter Eastwood, a sleep scientist, reveals the unit is a training ground at UWA to augment the sleep clinic at SCGH under Dr David Hillman, mainly directed at training ancillary staff such as sleep technicians who do most of the sleep study reporting. Currently, if you hand a study to 10 different sleep technicians, you can get very different interpretations, so standardisation is badly needed in the industry. Peter told us the centre will do research and provide training in all the sleep disorders and associated problems, not just sleep apnoea, which is needed in a well-rounded tertiary service attached to any sleep lab.
Every hospital worker will be allocated a personal security guard after it was revealed there were 2272 reported assaults on doctors, nurses, orderlies, and other hospital staff in two years. This covered all levels of assault, including swearing such as, “Get your finger out of my arse, you wanker,” which was overheard in a urology department, and “How would you like it if I stuck that needle in your eyeball?” overheard in an ED. An Opposition health spokesperson said a dozen WA health workers were being assaulted daily like this, with assaulters fuelled by drugs and alcohol. Health Minister Kim Hames said staff were excellent at de-escalating assaults by talking them down, but with extra security staff in EDs, people behaving badly are in for it. Read more about workplace injury and assault stats on page 23.
Paget’s genetic breakthrough
Another day, another gene discovery. This time around, Paget’s disease of bone by UWA’s Clin A/Prof John Walsh and his team at Charlies. He told Medical Forum their study identified 7 genetic loci associated with Paget’s. Each alone only offered odds ratios ranging from 1.4 to 1.7, but when combined in an allele risk score, individuals in the top decile had a 10-fold increase in the risk of Paget’s disease, which is clinically relevant. How? Future genetic profiling to assess risk. He said non-genetic factors are also at play because the incidence of Paget’s and the severity of newly diagnosed cases have fallen substantially (incidence by 50% over 30 years). Improved calcium nutrition and reduced viral infections are the leading candidates to explain this fall.
Quiet campers may not recoil from State Director of Trauma Services Dr Sudhakar Rao’s announcement that since 1995 there have been >1500 people admitted to RPH because of an off-road accident (with 280 on a quad bike), 23% with major trauma. On the one hand, we have 29% involving farm use and the rest recreational use (with 81% male, and 16% admitting to drug or alcohol use). A third weren’t wearing any safety gear. Most bang into trees or other vehicles.
Flu herd immunity failing?
Pre ‘flu season’ stats on vaccination attitudes are interesting. When 1,120 people were surveyed, 82% said even healthy people benefit from vaccination, but 72% were unsure if they would get vaccinated, 42% said they have never had a flu jab and 35% said vaccination was not for them this year. While 95% realised being vaccinated in the past didn’t protect them from future influenza outbreaks, 28% said it wasn’t important to be vaccinated every year. Many see vaccination as ‘too much hassle’ (40%), or unnecessary because they ‘never get the flu – so there’s no point’ (18%). GPs were being asked to educate patients – the H1N1 influenza is still circulating and causing some havoc across the northern hemisphere. In the land of Oz, 2,200 flu-related hospital admissions are the target.
Genome facility opens
The Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) has opened at WAIMR. Academia and industry are the expected clients. AGRF CEO Dr Sue Forrest is thrilled. Genomics experiments that were previously not thought to be possible are being done. It’s federally funded. Genomics is transforming the landscape, and creating opportunities that we have yet to dream of. AGRF provides services including sanger sequencing, next-generation sequencing, SNP genotyping, gene expression, epigenomics and structural genomics, nucleic acid extraction, plant growth and stress services. Website: www.agrf.org.au