Saturday, July 03, 2010
Doctors found guilty of incompetence and negligence escaping punishment
And from what details leak out, most would have been overseas-trained (or not trained)
DOCTORS found guilty of incompetence and negligence in Queensland often get only a slap on the wrist, even in cases where the patient has died, Queensland Medical Board reports reveal.
The incidents, which include misdiagnosis of cardiac conditions leading to fatal heart attacks, poisoning a patient through the wrong prescription, sexual misconduct and corruption, are also frequently being covered up, according to files obtained by The Courier-Mail.
Only five of the 21 substantiated cases before disciplinary hearing committees in the past year were recorded on the public register. Explanations for this included that the incident was "isolated" or that it was not in the public interest. The Courier-Mail understands that none of the doctors involved were struck off the register in Queensland, although at least two are now working overseas.
The evidence comes as US surgeon Jayant Patel was jailed this week for killing three patients and harming a fourth at Bundaberg hospital between 2003 and 2005.
The cases included a doctor being found guilty of robbing taxpayers through Medicare, saying he had just under 22,000 consultations in a year. He said on most days he saw at least 60 patients and sometimes more than 90. That same doctor claimed for excessively long sessions (more than 25 minutes) and medical equipment he never bought.
Other doctors were caught illegally prescribing drugs like Valium or morphine, in some cases for their own use or that of a family member. So far this year, there have been 236 complaints made against doctors over misconduct and there were 394 last year. About 10,000 doctors practise in Queensland.
Queensland Medical Board chairwoman Mary Cohn said the board had referred 14 matters involving doctor misconduct to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal this year and five appeared before the Professional Conduct Review Panel.
"The board's investigation report and the decision on the level of disciplinary action to be taken was reviewed by Queensland's independent watchdog, the Health Quality and Complaints Commission," she said. "Following that review, the matter was referred for disciplinary action through one of three disciplinary bodies. "Only QCAT has the ability to suspend or cancel a doctor's registration."
New "mandatory reporting" legislation, forcing staff to dob in doctors suspected of dodgy practices or face disciplinary action, was introduced on January 1 and the Queensland Medical Board was disbanded on Thursday and replaced by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
Phenomenal school performance by Asian students
Despite the large handicap of coming from a different linguistic and cultural background. Effort alone cannot account for that. For an Asian to become competent in English is a huge leap. Try learning Chinese if you doubt it
CHILDREN of recent Asian migrants are dramatically outperforming students from English-speaking households to dominate the ranks of the top selective high schools.
A Herald analysis shows 42 per cent of children from non-English speaking backgrounds who sat the annual selective high school entrance test last year won a place in the elite system. Fewer than 23 per cent of students whose families speak English at home were successful.
Letters and emails were sent this week to inform 4133 year 6 students that they had won a place for next year at a selective high school. The percentage of students from migrant families entering the selective system has risen dramatically from 29 per cent in 1995 to as high as 62 per cent in 2008. The component is sharply skewed towards children from Asian-origin families.
Students whose families speak other languages comprise a little more than one-quarter of the total public school population.
Many of the successful students are graduates of the burgeoning network of private coaching colleges which gauge their success by their ability to secure places in the selective system and who tailor courses towards the "opportunity class" and selective exams. Coaching colleges are dominated by children of recent migrants.
"Anglo families have a different sense of what a child's life should look like and they are really concerned about narrowing a child's life down to passing the selective school entrance test," says Craig Campbell, a Sydney University academic and co-author of School Choice, a book on how parents negotiate the school market. "But they're having to change because of the competition."
High school principals, worried about losing students and prestige, are said to be pushing hard to establish selective streams in their schools, according to Associate Professor Campbell.
At James Ruse Agricultural High, the state's top selective school, an overwhelming majority of students are from families that have migrated from Asian countries.
The selective system was expanded this year with 600 more places created through the establishment of 14 partially selective high schools, where a high-achieving stream has been added to a comprehensive high school.
The students from migrant families also win up to half the opportunity class placements available for years 5 and 6 at specialised public schools. These classes are designed to provide "intellectual stimulation and an educationally enriched environment for academically gifted and talented children", says the Department of Education.
Anecdotal evidence suggests some parents avoid selective high schools because of the extent of Asian domination. The former head of the NSW selective schools unit, Bob Wingrave, recalls his surprise to hear a colleague had decided against sending his child to James Ruse "because there were too many Asians there".
"All kids who go to a selective high school will benefit from going," Mr Wingrave said. Coaching might gain students a few marks at the most.
Children from a non-English-speaking background answered more questions in the selective schools entry test than other students, he said. "The Anglo kids won't answer it if looks too hard and they are less likely to finish than the non-English-speaking background kids," Mr Wingrave said.
Where's all that global warming gone?
Melbourne faces longest cold snap in 14 years. How come it got left out of "global" warming?
If you thought it was colder than normal, you're right: Melbourne is within reach of its longest cold snap in 14 years. If the temperature stays below 13 degrees today, Victoria's capital will mark its longest cold stretch since 1996. Back then, Melburnians shivered through seven days below 13 degrees.
If the temperature stays around the forecast 12 today, the city will mark six days under 13 degrees. But if you think that's bad, spare a thought for the Melbourne of 1894, whose residents suffered a freezing 21 consecutive days under 13 degrees - without central heating.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Stephen King said a high-pressure system had been hanging over the state for much of the week. The bureau has forecast a top of 14 tomorrow, but Mr King said there was still a chance Melbourne would equal the 1996 record.
A Green vote is madness
From Andrew Bolt in Melbourne
ENOUGH'S enough. If you're really this keen to vote Green in the state election, why not prove you're serious? Why not live the life you apparently want the Greens to inflict on the rest of us? Go turn off your own lights first. Kill your fridge. Cook your roast over a solar-powered candle.
Then go to work and turn off the machines. Junk the computer. Tell your hospital to switch off the machines that go "bing". And harness some donkeys to pull our trains. Can't find donkeys, you say? Nonsense. Look at yesterday's Newspoll, which reports a record 18 per cent of Victorians plan to vote Green. Plenty there. Hook 'em up.
I laugh, but dear God, we're drowning, up to our necks in unreason.
"There, there," coos my wife, when I sob that even some of our frequent-flyer friends vote Greens. "They wouldn't vote Greens if they actually thought they'd win ... "
No? Well, they're winning enough already, like the battle for our brains.
And who knows what desperate deal Premier John Brumby will now do to win the Greens preferences that are critical to Labor getting the 51 to 49 per cent edge over the Coalition that Newspoll assumes?
We've already seen what depths of insanity Labor will cater to, to prove it's as green as the next idiot. Why else has this great city been on water restrictions for an embarrassing seven years? Why this insane ban on a new dam for our fast-growing capital?
Why did the Government wait until it was almost too late to even start building its new $3.5 billion desalination plant, at three times the price of a dam for a third of the water? Madness, and the Greens promise yet more of it - and less of everything else.
Take just one of their policies, one that 18 per cent of shiny-eyed Victorians evidently now support.
The Greens demand the instant closure of Hazelwood power station to save the world from global warming. It's a noble policy, which sounds warm and fuzzy, until you realise it will leave us cold and shivering, while making not a spit of difference to the planet.
Hazelwood - and I know this is an irrelevant detail to a planet-saver - happens to produce a quarter of this state's electricity. You know, the stuff that powers your home, your factory, your office, your hospital, your computer, your trains, your airport, your street lighting, your cinema, your trams, your traffic lights ...
Now I don't want to seem like a spoilsport, but I would just like to be reassured on one small point: how the hell do the Greens then plan to power our state? After all, they don't plan to stop at Hazelwood, either. Their policy is to shut every coal-fired plant, leaving us with just 5 per cent of the electricity we now use - with nuclear power banned, new hydro power banned and wind power as reliable as, well, the wind.
It's madness of the kind you get from a child who wants her fifth ice cream but not the upchuck that goes with it. Still, you'd think the Greens would have worked out by now these small details about how to keep the lights burning....
If you think this is remotely possible, dear Greens voter, consider first that this state is actually predicted to need 50 per cent more power by 2030, even though many companies, hit with higher power bills, have tried for years to cut their use.
Then go around your home - and, more importantly, your factory - and switch off half the power. With all appliances off, look proudly at the appalled people around you in winter and say, "Isn't it great we're all freezing to death for the planet?" Or, in summer, for variety, ask: "Isn't it lovely to be sweating in this furnace now that I've switched off the aircon?"
And then, by the kerosene lamp at home, try to figure out the next step. After all, you're still only halfway to replacing the 95 per cent of electricity the Greens plan to ban.
Let me just try to get it through your cable-knit beanie how impossible that is without reducing this state to the standard of living endured by people who burn cow dung for their cooking.
For Earth Hour this year, the zealots at Melbourne University tried especially hard to cut their power. The university exhorted staff and students to do their best to save the planet from their electricity, and to "turn off all lights and appliances". All of them. And the result? Read the University's boast: "Electricity consumption on the Earth Hour weekend dropped by 5.51 per cent compared with a 2010 business as usual weekend."
Less than 6 per cent? After all that special sacrifice? For just one weekend? Whoopee do. And that's from a mere university, mind, which runs no heavy industry or essential services, and had almost no one in the joint over that weekend actually wanting to work or switch on so much as a toaster or kettle. Just 90 per cent to go, guys, before you live the Greens' dream.
But there I go, trying to marry consequence to action, like I was an adult or something. Don't I realise the times have changed? After all, this is the Age of the Use Less, in which our brainless and godless rich resent their own wealth - well, resent the wealth of everyone else, at least. And then, for penance, suggest ingenious ways to make us poor again.
Example: remember how this Labor Government told us for years we didn't need more water supplies, claiming we could get by if we just Used Less? And so our ovals turned brown, our gardens died and we broke our backs carting buckets to the most precious of our plants. Use Less, heaven!
Ah, but you think I exaggerate this madness of our times. So let me introduce you to the latest guru of this Use Less creed, "anti-poverty crusader" Richard Fleming, as featured this week in the Herald Sun and on Channel 7's Today Tonight.
He, too, preaches Use Less, or eat less, actually. He's promoting his $2 a day "Live Below the Line" diet, which restricts you to eating the very cheapest of foods - hummus, watery soup, dahl, rice, marmalade and peanut paste.
No real reason for this torture, other than to make you realise what it must be like to be some starving Bangladeshi, wishing you were lucky enough to live in a country where you had so much to eat that you'd, er, starve yourself instead. Out of sheer, mindless guilt.
"There's a level of stupidity in all this," Fleming admits, but he should be less hard on himself. He's the poster boy of a state in which so many finger-waggers want to deny the rest of us the harvest of our science and ingenuity - cooling on hot days, heating on cold ones, water for green gardens and food for a feast.
Fine, if that's what you want for yourself. But, please, before you vote to inflict this on the rest of us, first try living as the Greens prescribe and see if it truly suits even high-minded you. Lights out. Heating, too. Starve and shiver for your faith. At least live as miserably as you plan to vote.