Health round-up: NSW drug driving, ACCC admonish NIB and hernia repair surgery times

Peter Terlato 1 June 2017 NEWS

Surgery doctor

A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

NSW drug driving charges surge to all-time high

The latest New South Wales crime statistics reveal that in just two years the number of people facing charges for drug-related driving offences more than tripled.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found 2,331 drug driving charges were finalised in the local court system during 2014/15. This figure rose a staggering 320% to total 9,808 in 2015/16.

The majority of offenders caught during this two year period were males (79.3%) aged 18-39 (72.4%).

While these figures are distressing, the rapid increase could be attributed to the expanding frequency and prevalence of mobile drug testing (MDT) by local police on New South Wales roads.

ACCC taking NIB to court over misleading claims

Australia's consumer watchdog has taken action against NIB, alleging the insurer failed to adequately notify its members of the decision to remove certain eye procedures from its MediGap Scheme in 2015.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) instituted Federal Court proceedings this week, asserting that between June 2011 and October 2016 the company made representations to its members that several policies covered eye procedures, exempting them from out-of-pocket expenses.

However, NIB removed these eye procedures and other services from its MediGap Scheme in August 2015 and the ACCC allege the insurer did not properly inform members of these changes in advance.

Smoking rates in Australia down almost 10% in 20 years

Following World No Tobacco Day (31 May) the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports smoking rates in Australia have fallen by nearly 10% over the past two decades.

Around one in seven (14.5%) adults were smokers in 2014/15. This figure was closer to one in four (23.8%) in 1995. Rates of daily smoking have decreased substantially, particularly among younger adults (18-44 years old). In 2014/15 just 16.3% of young adults smoked daily, compared with a whopping 28.2% in 2001.

The falls were attributed to improving quit rates and greater numbers of people not taking up smoking in the first place. For example, in 2014/15, almost two thirds (60%) of younger adults had never smoked, while one nearly quarter (23%) were ex-smokers.

Overnight stays for hernia repair surgeries aren't necessary

A study by Medibank and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) found the majority (80%) of hernia repair surgeries, undertaken in private hospitals, could be completed as day surgeries.

Just 20% of hernia repair surgeries are completed on the same day. However, the study found that same day surgery for repair of inguinal, femoral and umbilical hernia was safe and effective.

"By going home on the day of surgery, the patient is able to recuperate in a familiar environment and is less likely to suffer a hospital infection post-surgery," Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan said.

What else is happening?

Recommendations made by the coroner at the inquest into the suicide death of Ahlia Jane Raftery, 18, at Newcastle's Mater Mental Health Centre in 2015 include an appeal for 1-on-1 care in all NSW psychiatric intensive care units and a trial of wearable technology that regularly checks for signs of life, ABC reports.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

Picture: Shutterstock

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