Five years after the Tasmanian Government pledged to put patients first, hospital wait times remain a sore point

Donna Emery has experienced the best and worst Tasmania’s public health system has to offer.

Her 14-year-old son Luke has cystic fibrosis, a degenerative condition requiring regular check-ups at the Launceston General Hospital (LGH).

“When he needs an admission, which is generally about once a year, we kind of get straight in,” Ms Emery said.

“We don’t have to go to emergency, we don’t call ambulances, so I don’t have that experience with him.”

Having her parents admitted for acute care was not as smooth.

Ms Emery’s father spent two days in the emergency department (ED) before he was flown to the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) for a triple bypass.

When her mother presented to the same unit, she was sent home with a suspected middle ear infection.

A CT scan uncovered a tumour which required urgent removal. When the time came for palliative care, her mother could not be admitted to a free bed in her local hospital at Beaconsfield because the specialist did not work weekends.

“She spent Saturday night and Sunday at the LGH ED before they could get her back to Beaconsfield on Monday, and she passed away on Wednesday,” Ms Emery said.

“I can see they need more money, they need more staff and that’s just the crux of it.”

The Patients First initiative was designed to ease pressure on the Launceston General Hospital.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

The Liberals came to power in 2014 pledging to fix what even they described as a broken health system.

Almost five years after the former health minister introduced the Patients First initiative to improve bed access at Tasmania’s major hospitals, consumers, unions and the Opposition are asking when the promised benefits will finally flow.

‘Demographic time bomb heading our way’

Patients First, introduced early in 2016, was made up of 19 actions aimed at easing pressure on the stressed emergency departments at the LGH and the RHH.

The plan included better utilising rural hospital beds, a trial of allowing senior nursing and allied health staff to discharge patients earlier in the day, and creating a list of “red flag” events that would receive urgent attention once noted.

Neither Health Minister Sarah Courtney nor the Tasmanian Health Service (THS) responded to requests for comment on which actions had been implemented and how effective they had been.

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson says while some of the 19 initiatives from Patients First have been implemented, “the problem is it really hasn’t made any demonstrable improvement to what we’ve got”.

In the past week, paramedics at both hospitals have reported issues with ambulance ramping — in which paramedics have to provide care in an ambulance setting — because of issues with patient flow.

“This Government has known since they took office that we have a demographic time bomb heading our way,” Mr Jacobson said.

“And while they’ve done work with [new RHH wing] K Block to improve capacity, it has not been enough.”

A building facade behind tree branches
One health union says the RHH’s new K Block building is not enough to improve capacity at the hospital.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Tasmania’s population has a greater proportion of older people than other states, as well as mores smokers, people who are overweight or obese, and people who are financially disadvantaged.

As a result, the state has a higher number of people with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.

With data showing about half of all potentially preventable hospitalisations are related to chronic conditions, Health Consumers Tasmania chief executive Bruce Levett said there should be a greater focus on providing Tasmanians with access to community-based care.

A spokesman for the Tasmanian Health Service said many of the Patients First initiatives had been implemented, but the project had been rolled into a new strategy.

“Since 2017, there has been significant investment in our hospitals and a continued focus on patient flow, so some initiatives have been combined with others, following continual consultation with our clinicians,” the spokesman said.

Labor Member for Rumney Sarah Lovell May 9, 2017
Sarah Lovell says promises are not converting to action.(ABC News: Rhiana Whitson)

Health Minister Courtney released a discussion paper, Our Healthcare Future, in November which was billed on the THS website as focused on fixing the “long-term challenges our health system faces”.

Described as stage two of the Government’s long-running health system reforms, the project acknowledges the Tasmanian health system does not have enough subacute, primary, community and home-based services.

To Labor health spokeswoman Sarah Lovell, the latest pledge to fix the health system is the latest in a long line of promises since the Liberals came to power in 2014.

In addition to the One State, One Health System reforms in 2014, which drew the state’s traditionally disparate regional health organisations under one umbrella, the Government has announced:

  • The Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment
  • Upgrades to the Launceston General Hospital
  • The Access Solutions roundtable, supposed to reduce bed block
  • The Rethink Mental Health reforms
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service reforms

“There have been a number of working groups and focus groups and a lot of talking around these issues,” Ms Lovell said.

“We come out of these talkfests with a list of actions, but then in terms of implementation and in terms of funding to see that implementation through into the long term, that’s where the Government continues to let down Tasmania.”

Ambulance ramping at the Royal Hobart Hospital
Paramedics have reported ambulance ramping at the Launceston General and Royal Hobart hospitals during the past week.(ABC News: Scott Ross)

RHH Staff Association chairman Frank Nicklason said the Government’s pledges had recorded varying degrees of success.

While the new K Block development was “a great space”, Dr Nicklason said it was “not as much of a positive as people who weren’t in the know were led to believe”.

“That’s reflected in the fact we’ve got days with high levels of escalation and people waiting a long time in the hospital,” Dr Nicklason said.

He gave credit to primary health initiatives, like Hospital in the Home, and said coronavirus had proven the state’s health strengths.

“In one way it’s a big success story, though it’s put a few things on the backburner,” Dr Nicklason said.

Consultation on Our Healthcare Future ends on February 12.

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Coroner urges against psychiatric patients sharing rooms following 2014 manslaughter

South Australia’s deputy coroner has recommended against dual occupancy rooms in psychiatric wards at public hospitals after one patient killed another while sharing a room at Noarlunga Hospital six years ago.

Stephen John Barton was killed by room-mate Lindon Luke Sekrst in August 2014.

Deputy coroner Anthony Schapel said that, “given the practice of dually accommodating patients”, there was a “certain inevitability” in such an incident occurring at some point in time.

“It was not so much a question of whether such an incident would occur and when, but to whom,” Mr Schapel said in his inquest findings into Mr Barton’s death.

Sekrst was found guilty of Mr Barton’s murder in 2016 but appealed against the conviction and instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

He was sentenced in 2017 to at least five years, nine months and 18 days in jail.

In 2014, Sekrst was found in the room the two men shared, in the hospital’s Morier Ward, with his foot on Mr Barton’s neck.

Mr Barton’s sisters Cath Hoffman and Annette Burden leave court in 2016.(ABC News: Candice Prosser)

His lawyer told the Supreme Court he struck Mr Barton’s head and face three times and then placed him in a headlock until Mr Barton stopped moving.

Mr Schapel found he died of “blunt neck trauma” and that Sekrst’s actions “were grossly excessive, irrational and borne out of his mental disturbance”.

The Supreme Court heard in 2016 that he was “mentally competent” at the time he killed Mr Barton, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

The inquest heard that the Morier Ward at the Noarlunga Hospital was the only psychiatric facility in the public mental health system in which rooms were shared by two people.

Resources reason for sharing rooms

Two doctors and two nurses “were unanimous in their view that dual accommodation in the open facility of Morier was an undesirable circumstance”, Mr Schapel wrote in his findings.

The Coroners Court sign in Adelaide.
The deputy coroner said a death in the ward was inevitable.(ABC News: Dean Faulkner)

“Indeed, certain pitfalls were identified, including a general reluctance for patients to occupy a double room.

“It is also clear that Mr Sekrst, like all other dually accommodated patients in Morier, was placed into dual accommodation with Mr Barton due to resource considerations alone.”

An SA Health spokeswoman said Morier Ward still had dual occupancy rooms.

“We are reviewing the coroner’s findings handed down today and will consider the recommendation in detail,” SA Health said in a statement.

The coroner recommended that sharing rooms “should no longer be permitted”.

“I acknowledge that there was no overt indication that Mr Sekrst would harm anybody,” Mr Schapel concluded.

“However, given the practice of dually accommodating patients in the open ward of Morier, there seems to have been a certain inevitability in an incident of this kind occurring at some point in time.

“To my mind, this state of affairs continues as long as dual accommodation arrangements exist at Morier.”

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‘Horrific’ Personal Data Disclosed Publicly On Ambulance Tasmania Paging System

Private details of all Tasmanians who have called emergency ambulance service since November last year have been disclosed publicly in a list that is still ongoing as it updates each time paramedics are dispatched to cater to an emergency.

According to Health and Community Services Union, the breach of Ambulance Tasmania’s paging system is “horrific” and suggested that the data dump could leave the Government open to litigation.

What’s disturbing is that these pager messages include patients’ personal details and conditions as well as the location where an incident took place. Moreover, information made public also includes a patient’s HIV status, gender and age, raising concerns it could lead to discrimination or stigmatization.

As per state secretary Tim Jacobson, “It’s unbelievable. If I were a patient I’d be upset, I’d be concerned, and I would want to know immediately both what the Government has done about closing off this but also what the Government’s now doing or likely to do to address any real breaches of privacy for those patients.”

According to internal training materials, Ambulance Tasmania’s paging system is the primary method of initial communications between the agency’s communications centre and paramedics on the ground.

This website has more than 26,000 pages long and which also includes detail of call-outs within the Tasmania Fire Service and gives off brief details on incidents, including mental health call-outs.

Half a billion dollars has already been allocated to the upgrading the state’s ailing emergency communications network by the Tasmanian Government.

Last December, Jeremy Rockliff, the acting premier announced that Telstra had been awarded the contract to deliver the Tasmanian Government Radio Network or TasGRN. One action determined within the TasGRN project was a so-called Paging Project, which opted to “replace critical end-of-life equipment and restore the paging network to a fit-for-purpose state”.

It is yet uncertain if the breach is connected to the Paging Project changeover. But, Mr Jacobson said the breach went to broader issues within Ambulance Tasmania.

Looking back, a 2019 report from consultancy firm IPM Consulting saw more than half of the 39 work health and safety requirements that being assessed were non-compliant with Australian and New Zealand standards and another 13 were just “partially” compliant.

Thus, for Mr Jacobson, the recent breach “tells an absolute story about the internal management systems and processes that are in place in Tasmania’s most critical services.”

To date, Ambulance Tasmania and the Health Minister have been contacted by media for further comments regarding the matter.

(Image source: ABC News)

SA hospital power cut at Christmas has palliative patients in darkness, without even a kettle

Palliative care patients at South Australia’s Port Augusta hospital are still using torches at night, nearly two weeks after non-essential power was cut on Christmas Day

Marion Ellis arrived in the palliative care wing more than a week ago, and has had no access to TV, a phone charger, a fridge or even a kettle.

“It seems that a majority of power points are affected,” Ms Ellis said.

“Due to the nature of my illness I am unable to read, write or do any craft activities, so the television is my lifeline to the outside world and helps relieve some of the boredom.

“Some areas of the hospital have extension cords hanging from the ceiling to allow other areas to access power,” she said.

On Wednesday January 6, full power had still not been restored to the hospital.

‘Would it happen in Adelaide?’

Her daughter Petrea said a big window was the room’s only light, but night-times were pitch black.

“It is difficult when the nurses help her to go to the toilet, because the toilet’s dark, there’s no light in there. If you want to shut the door you won’t see anything,” Petrea said.

The bathrooms in Port Augusta Hospital’s palliative care rooms are pitch black at night.(Supplied: Petrea Ellis)

While Ms Ellis said the staff had been brilliant in a difficult situation, she was concerned about the cleaners’ ability to clean bathrooms adequately in the dark.

“I think to myself, it is a hospital, you know should this happen? Would it happen in Adelaide?”

Repairs delayed by Christmas

SA Health said while the outage has posed no clinical risks, a delay to repairs over Christmas had meant power is unlikely to be fully restored until at least Wednesday January 6, or possibly later.

A kitchenette with its appliances not plugged in.
Patients say fridges, TVs and most non-essential power points are switched off.(Supplied: Petrea Ellis)

Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network chief executive Craig Packard said a local power surge on Christmas Day caused a power board to fail.

“A number of non-essential power points continue to be affected, including some inpatient TV power supplies and in-room power points.”

He said any disruption had been communicated with patients, with alternative options offered where possible.

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Former IMH nurse gets jail and caning for sexual offences against patients, ex-colleagues

SINGAPORE: A former Institute of Mental Health (IMH) nurse tasked to care for patients – including those who were severely mentally ill and suicidal – abused his position and committed sexual offences against them instead.

The 36-year-old man – who cannot be named due to gag orders imposed by the court – was sentenced on Monday (Dec 28) to four years, nine months and one week’s jail and 10 strokes of the cane.

He molested patients and took videos of them when they were naked. At the time of the incident, some of his victims were warded in the High Dependency Psychiatric Care Unit, a highly specialised ward for patients who are actively disturbed, suicidal or severely mentally ill. 

Other victims include his then-colleagues and a pregnant woman who responded to an advertisement he posted for a photoshoot model.

The man was caught in March this year by a victim who saw him take an upskirt video of her on an escalator at a train station.

The police arrested the man on Mar 4 this year at IMH and seized his phones. Four types of videos were found in them – upskirt videos of IMH staff and members of the public, videos of IMH nurses changing, videos of IMH patients showering and videos of the accused molesting IMH patients.

As part of his duties caring for patients in the High Dependency Psychiatric Care Unit, the man had to monitor patients in the shower to ensure they did not commit acts of self-harm.

Usually, nurses are assigned to wards of their corresponding gender, but the man would occasionally be asked to carry out duties in the female ward by the nurse in charge of the shift.

Investigations found that he had filmed nine female patients in the unit.

He also molested a victim at the unit who had been restrained to a hospital bed, and filmed himself committing the crime.

The man also outraged the modesty of another patient who had been sedated for aggression.

In a separate incident, the man posted an advertisement online for a pregnant model for a photoshoot. He asked the woman who responded to the ad to wear a dress that clearly showed her pregnancy bump and met her at Chinese Gardens.

While instructing her to face away from him, the man took five upskirt videos of the pregnant woman before placing the videos in an application that password-protected the clips.

The man, who is married with four children, pleaded guilty to eight charges of molestation, insulting a woman’s modesty and various acts of voyeurism. Another 34 similar charges were taken into consideration. He has been diagnosed with voyeuristic disorder.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran asked for 58 months’ jail and 13 strokes of the cane, taking into account “the large number of offences, the repugnant and sickening abuse of the accused’s position” and “how the accused compromised the physical integrity and dignity” of the patients under his care.

Nurses are at the heart of our healthcare system, he said, but the accused instead perpetrated “egregious abuse at a public hospital”, with his “despicable conduct” striking “at the very ethos of nursing” and threatening to “grossly taint and mar the efforts of healthcare workers everywhere”. 

Defence lawyers Mato Kotwani and Ashwin Ganapathy asked instead for not more than 57 months and a week’s jail, and no more than nine strokes of the cane.

Mr Kotwani said his client’s decision to plead guilty stemmed from his remorse.

“He is truly sorry for the hurt and pain he has caused to the victims and their families,” he said. 

He added that his client has made “unqualified confessions to the police, fully assisting in their investigations”.

District Judge Luke Tan said he broadly agreed with the prosecution, adding that the accused has “really done a great disservice” to the nursing profession.

IMH said in response to queries from CNA that it takes a serious view of the incident. It has also since tightened protocol for staff members working in mixed-gender wards.

“IMH takes a serious view of the incident and staff conduct, and had fully cooperated with the police in their investigations,” said an IMH spokesperson, adding that the accused was dismissed on Mar 11. 

“We had also reached out to the affected staff and patients, addressed their concerns, and provided support to them,” the spokesperson said.

“Following the charge in court, we have reminded all staff to adhere to the hospital’s code of conduct. We also further tightened our protocol for staff working in mixed-gender wards.”

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Tip: An Important Bulletin for TRT Patients

I’ve written before about how subcutaneous (under the skin) injections are more convenient and less problematic than intramuscular injections for men undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

I described how the cumulative damage to poking your muscle(s) over and over again for a couple of decades is bound to leave your glutes, quads, or delts (the typical IM delivery sites) with the consistency of beef jerky. SubQ injections, however, don’t cause scarring to the muscle.

Accordingly, subQ injections also cause less pain and irritation than IM shots. You can also use the same needle to fill your syringe and administer the dose when going subQ and you don’t even need to aspirate.

I also suggested – without providing much substantiation – that subQ shots may be more potent than IM shots in that they might lead to higher total testosterone levels than their meat-piercing alternative.

Now, however, courtesy of the Department of Urology at University of California, we have clinical evidence of how subQ shots lead to higher levels of free T, along with evidence of them being physiologically superior to IM shots in several other important ways.

What They Did

The researchers wanted to compare four effects, or potential effects, of subQ and IM injections:

  • Total testosterone levels

  • Hematocrit levels – The ratio of red blood cells to total volume of blood; if it’s too high, you’re at a heightened risk of heart attack or stroke.

  • Estradiol levels – Generally speaking, you don’t want too much of your testosterone to be aromatized into estradiol.

  • PSA levels – High levels of PSA are implicated with prostate cancer.

In order to conduct those comparisons, the researchers recruited 232 men. Baseline levels were measured and then were repeated at 6 weeks and 12 weeks post-treatment.

What They Found

Men who received subQ injections of testosterone exhibited the following:

  • 14% greater total testosterone levels than those receiving IM injections.

  • 41% lower hematocrit that those receiving IM injections.

  • 26.5% lower estradiol than those receiving IM injections.

  • No rise in PSA (the IM method didn’t raise PSA either).

How to Use This Info

Based on this simple study, there’s not much reason for men undergoing TRT to use IM. In fact, it’s plain silly to continue with this antiquated method.

If you want to make the switch, buy yourself some 25 gauge, half-inch needles or 26 gauge, 3/8-inch needles and some 1 cc syringes. There are several diabetes care websites that ship direct to the customer.

Ideally, split your normal weekly dosage into two equal doses. In other words, if you normally inject 100 to 200 mg. of testosterone every week, inject 25 mg. or 50 mg. of your 200 mg/ml testosterone cypionate or testosterone enanthate prescription (the most common formulation in the U.S.) twice a week, e.g, Tuesday and Friday.

To administer the testosterone, wipe the top of the bottle of testosterone ester (cypionate and enanthate are basically equivalent) with an alcohol swab.

Then draw up the pre-determined dosage of testosterone with your insulin syringe and simply “dart” the needle into the fat layer over your abs, into the “love handles,” or into pretty much any damn fatty area you please (it doesn’t make much difference where you shoot). Inject the testosterone slowly.

One Thing to Consider

Given that the subQ method leads to a higher total testosterone level (and presumably higher levels of bioavailable testosterone), you might want to adjust your dosage downwards. Then again, you might just want to ride the higher levels and see how you do.

A Natural Way to Boost T

Testosterone Replacement Therapy – Safe or Deadly?


  1. Edward Choi, et al. “Comparison of Outcomes for Hypogonadal Men Treated with Intramuscular Testosterone Cypionate versus Subcutaneous Testosterone Enanthate,” SIU Academy, 10/10/20. 309864; BSP-06.01 Topic: Treatment.

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Southern Alberta family offering rainbow of hope with non-profit for cancer patients – Lethbridge

Karlee Durfey, a University of Lethbridge kinesiology student and Pronghorns’ rugby player, says her family’s world was turned upside down last December when her two-year-old niece, Bo Smith, was diagnosed with Stage 4 sarcoma, a rare form of cancer which had spread to her lungs and liver.

“It was super tough,” Durfey explained.

“Bo wasn’t feeling well. She had a spot on her stomach… she would kind of complain when we picked her up that it would hurt, and so she went through a bunch of emergency visits.”

Bo then fought her cancer battle at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

Read more:
‘So many kids are suffering’: Edmonton family donates son’s brain tumour to research

A GoFundMe page was created by Durfey, and support rolled in from friends and family to help Bo’s family pay for trips to Calgary and hotel stays as they lost work hours.

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“They did have a room at the Ronald McDonald House, and sometimes she’d stay at the hospital,” Durfey said. “But once COVID(-19) hit, it was even harder because sometimes they couldn’t offer her a stay at the hospital or they couldn’t go to the Ronald McDonald House unless they wanted to stay for a long time, which wasn’t quite possible with my sister having two other kids to tend to at home.

“So that made it even harder.”

During her fight, Bo lost a kidney. But one year later, she’s a healthy three-year-old and her cancer is in remission after undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Read more:
Dozens donate long locks for kids with cancer at 3rd annual Haircuts for a Cause

“We spent quite a few days at the hospital and honestly, it gets boring, so we were looking for things to do,” Durfey said.

“So my mom took us to a sewing store, and we started embroidering. The first thing I ever embroidered was a rainbow — Bo loves rainbows, they kind of signify the light after the rain, after a hard thing.”

When the stormy clouds in their lives started to part, Durfey said her sister, Bo’s mom, had an idea.

“I was still embroidering, and she said we should embroider clothes and sell them — not necessarily to make a profit, but to give to families that needed help when their kids are sick, just like the support our family got,” Durfey said.

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“She spent a lot of time in the hospital and saw a lot of families and a lot of kids going through the same thing who could really use some help.”

In their quest to pay it forward, the sisters created a non-profit called Bo Smith & Co. in May.

“We started embroidering,” Durfey said. “We didn’t really want to sell clothes to make money, so we thought we could give it back in a way we thought was important — so that’s what we did.

“(We) can’t quite keep up with the demand in sales, so it’s been awesome.”

Durfey said 100 per cent of profits from the embroidered clothing goes towards families with children battling cancer.

The family has already raised over $20,000 through the non-profit and has financially assisted 12 families with a child fighting cancer. They’ve also donated to a couple of different fundraisers all in support of childhood cancer.

Bo has been serving as the organization’s star model.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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FDA approves first oral drug for treating adult patients with advanced prostate cancer

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Orgovyx (relugolix) for the treatment of adult patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Today’s approval marks the first oral drug in this class and it may eliminate some patients’ need to visit the clinic for treatments that require administration by a health care provider. This potential to reduce clinic visits can be especially beneficial in helping patients with cancer stay home and avoid exposure during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Richard Pazdur, M.D., Director, FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and Acting Director, Office of Oncologic Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020, there will have been more than 190,000 cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. One of the treatment options for advanced prostate cancer is androgen deprivation therapy, which uses drugs to lower levels of the hormones that help prostate cancer cells grow. Current FDA-approved treatments of this type are injected or placed as small implants under the skin. Orgovyx is an orally administered treatment that works by blocking the pituitary gland from making hormones called luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, thereby reducing the amount of testosterone the testicles are able to make.

The safety and efficacy of Orgovyx was evaluated in a randomized, open-label trial in men with advanced prostate cancer. The patients randomly received either Orgovyx once daily or injections of leuprolide, another hormone-targeting drug, every three months for 48 weeks. The objective was to determine if Orgovyx achieved and maintained low enough levels of testosterone (castrate levels), by day 29 through end of the treatment course. In the 622 patients who received Orgovyx, the castration rate was 96.7%.

The most common side effects of Orgovyx include: hot flush, increased glucose, increased triglycerides, musculoskeletal pain, decreased hemoglobin, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea and increased levels of certain liver enzymes. Concurrent use of Orgovyx with drugs that inhibit P-glycoprotein, which plays a role in pumping toxins out of cells, is contraindicated. Androgen deprivation therapies such as Orgovyx may affect the heart’s electrical properties or cause electrolyte abnormalities, therefore healthcare providers should consider periodic monitoring of electrocardiograms and electrolytes.

Based on findings in animals and the mechanism of action, Orgovyx can cause fetal harm and loss of pregnancy when administered to a pregnant female; it is advised that males with female partners of reproductive potential use effective contraception during treatment and for two weeks after the last dose of Orgovyx. Due to the drug’s suppression of the pituitary gonadal system, diagnostic test results of the pituitary gonadotropic and gonadal functions conducted during and after taking Orgovyx may be affected.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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Impatient snake bite patients are risking death

Snake bite patients in the Mackay region have been risking death by leaving hospital against medical advice.

Mackay Base Hospital Emergency Department specialist Dr Andrew Brier said worryingly some people ignored medical advice to wait until a series of blood tests were complete.

“Every year a number of people leave hospital against medical advice, and snake bites is probably the highest percentages of these cases,” he said.

Dr Brier said some species such as black snakes could cause life-threatening blood abnormalities and no other symptoms.

Hospital protocol is for blood to be taken at admission, then an hour after removal of the pressure immobilisation bandage and then at six and 12 hours after.

“Unfortunately, some people decide to leave against medical advice after they hear their first lot of bloods are normal,” Dr Brier said.

“They feel well and they’re just keen to get out of hospital and go home.

“Sometimes we manage to change their mind but we can’t make people stay.”

Some snake venom affects the ability of blood to clot and these changes in

coagulation take place over hours, not minutes.

“The risk is an internal bleed as well as delayed onset muscle breakdown leading to

permanent kidney failure,” Dr Brier said.

“If a black snake bite is not managed properly it can lead to kidney failure which can

lead to life-long dialysis or a kidney transplant.

“It’s a rare complication, but not one worth risking.”

In the Mackay Hospital and Health Service district, the majority of envenomation cases are brown snake related.

Mackay Base Hospital supply of antivenom. Picture: Contributed

More stories:

SEX TAPE: Amorous pair busted in man’s shed

WATCH: Snakes battle it out on Blacks Beach

Falling tangle of snakes catch cafe goers by surprise

Cafe customers’ unusual breakfast with a serpent

Night-time snake attack puts woman in hospital

Danger warning after dramatic spike in snake bites

Snake bite first aid

  • Apply a pressure bandage ASAP – bandage from the top of the limb down
  • Don’t move – immobilise and phone an ambulance on Triple 0

Myth busting

  • You may still have been bitten even if you can’t see bite marks. Brown snakes

may not leave a visible bite

  • Size doesn’t matter – small snakes can be just as venomous as large ones
  • There’s no need to bring the snake that bit you to hospital. Antivenoms exist

for all major venomous terrestrial snakes and there is a polyvalent sea snake


  • It’s ok to wash the wound if it’s bleeding and dirty. We don’t rely on venom

detection kits anymore to diagnose a snake bite.

Mackay Base Hospital supply of antivenom. Picture: Contributed

Mackay Base Hospital supply of antivenom. Picture: Contributed

Parting advice

Don’t try and guess whether the snake is venomous or not. Appearances can be


Don’t be fooled by minimal punctures or scratches and minimal local pain or reaction

– brown snake envenomation often presents like this.

We assume all snake bites are potentially dangerous until the patient is cleared by

serial examination and laboratory tests for at least 12 hours after the bite.

Envenoming is a potentially life-threatening condition. Current estimates suggest that

there are about 3000 snake bites annually in Australia; antivenom is required

in about 100 to 200 cases.

One to four deaths occur annually, mostly from brown snakes.

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Covid-19: Explosion kills nine coronavirus patients in Turkey

Turkey has recorded nearly two million coronavirus cases and 17,610 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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