ANZCA and FPM in the news

WA breakthrough making surgeries safer for children
ANZCA fellow Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg was interviewed for a Today Tonight WA program on the Seven Network on July 10. The segment featured Professor Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg's REACT (Reducing anaesthetic complications in children undergoing tonsillectomies) trial for which she received an ANZCA Research Foundation grant in 2016.
 


Pharma giant accused of using loophole to falsely promote opioid pain relief  

Pharmaceutical giant Mundipharma has been accused of misrepresenting the position of FPM and the RACGP in their promotion of pain medicine for chronic pain. The ABC reported the story with comments from FPM on July 10. 


Chronic pain discussion on ABC Radio National 

FPM Dean Dr Meredith Craigie featured as a panel guest on the ABC Radio National Sunday Extra program on Sunday June 23 for a 30 minute segment on chronic pain. The panel was convened following the release of the  National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management. 
 

Fellows encourage new discovery for capturing gases

Two Auckland fellows have been identified as the catalyst for the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Auckland coming up with a potentially effective system for capturing anaesthetic gases. The story about what happened when Dr Rob Burrell and Dr Matt Taylor approached Dr Saeid Baroutian was published on stuff.co.nz on June 17.


Fellows honoured on Queen's Birthday 
Several fellows were profiled in Australian media outlets on June 10, 2019 having received Queen's Birthday honours. ANZCA Past President Dr Lindy Roberts was interviewed by the Western Suburbs Weekly in WA while Launceston fellow Dr George Merridew was interviewed by ABC Radio Hobart and the Hobart Mercury. ACT anaesthetist Dr Vida Viliunus was interviewed by ABC Radio Canberra's Breakfast program. Fellows Dr Christine Ball, Dr Greg O'Sullivan, Dr Peter Lillie, Professor Maree Smith, Dr Richard Lee, Brigadier Dr Michael Reade, Dr Penelope Stewart and Dr David Smart were also honoured. 


FANZCA Professor Paul Myles interviewed about Australia's first open heart surgery performed in a portable operating theatre.
Professor Myles, Director of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital describes  to Channel Nine news on June 2, 2019 how the portable operating theatre became an "innovative solution" after storm damage compromised one of the hospital's main operating theatres. 


2019 ANZCA ASM media coverage
There were more than 530 online, print and broadcast reports in Australia and New Zealand reaching a combined audience of nearly 5.6 million. 

ANZCA distributed ten media releases and popular stories included:

  • NASA astronaut Dr Michael Barratt and Dr Heidi deBlock featured in a 1700-word double-page feature “Deep space but can man survive?” and a 200 word news pointer article “Surviving travel to the stars” which ran in the Herald Sun on Saturday May 11. 

  • Baroness Susan Greenfield’s presentation on the impact of digital technology was a popular topic with the journalists and led to a page one story in The Sydney Morning Herald and a page 3 “lead” story in the Herald Sun on Friday May 3. These stories were syndicated widely.

  • The e-poster presentation on the general anaesthesia given to 108-year-old Wollongong woman Daphne Keith, believed to be Australia’s oldest partial hip replacement patient, attracted more than 100 online and print articles. ANZCA provided a full “package” to journalists including photographs of Daphne with her family, a media release and interview access to Daphne’s 85 year-old nephew Mick Chapman and specialist anaesthetist and poster co-author Dr Natalie Smith. Dr Smith was interviewed by ABC Radio Illawarra and ABC South East. The story was picked up by Australian Associated Press in Sydney and their version of the story was syndicated to dozens of regional and rural online mastheads. It also ran on stuff.co.nz appearing in several newspapers throughout New Zealand

  • Associate Professor Guy Warman’s light therapy and anaesthesia research led to a five-minute interview on the Magic Talk afternoon radio program in New Zealand. This story also featured on stuff.co.nz.

  • Dr Nick Chrimes’ call for national regulation of drug labelling with ANZCA images and a media release was reported by the ASM journalists.

  • Associate Professor Steven Bolsin’s presentation on the goal of having an error-free hospital was also popular. 

  • An e-poster by Dr Vanessa Chen on obesity rates and hip and knee replacements was also covered by the journalists with interest sparked by an ANZCA media release.​

  • Dr Nick Christelis was interviewed during the FPM Pain Symposium in KL and featured in a story on stuff.co.nz and various newspapers looking at renewed interest in implantable devices to manage chronic pain.
     

Melbourne researchers trial laughing gas to treat severe depression 

Professor Paul Myles was interviewed by The Age for a story about his ANZCA-funded research study which is examining the impact of nitrous oxide on depression. The story on April 11, 2019 featured a photograph of Professor Myles and his co-researchers Carolyn Deng and Professor Jayashri Kulkarni at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Professor Myles was also interviewed by ABC Radio in Sydney and Melbourne about post surgery chronic pain as lead author of a new pain series in The Lancet. Print and online articles also featured in News Limited mastheads including the Herald Sun, the Courier Mail and The Daily Telegraph. 

 

How we can stop the opioid epidemic 

FANZCA and FFPMANZCA Dr Jenny Stevens  says "turning the tide is hard" in an April 10 2019 opinion piece "I'm a doctor who specialises in treating pain. This is how we can stop the opioid epidemic" at abc.net. au. She writes that reversing doctors' prescribing habits will take time but there a number of encouraging programs in Australia which focus on real-time monitoring of prescriptions.
 

The problem with opioids

FPM New Zealand National Committee member, Dr Paul Vroegop, was interviewed as part of a New Zealand stuff.co.nz series on opioid abuse. The article that ran on March 28 – Giving opioids to children is "setting them up to fail" - explored how pain medications can do more damage than good especially for children. Vroegop says when physicians don't have access to multi-disciplinary teams, including psychologists and physiotherapists, they may feel they have no option but to prescribe opioids.


The cost of chronic pain in New Zealand

The release of the Faculty of Pain medicine-commissioned Sapere report into the cost of chronic pain in New Zealand was well covered in the New Zealand media on Friday March 8. The FPM media release revealed chronic pain is costing the country more than diabetes and dementia and called for more multidisciplinary pain clinics and a national strategy. The story led National Radio’s Morning Report program and news feeds and featured in the Dominion Post and on stuff.co.nz. Chronic pain was also the subject of an excellent opinion editorial, Shortage of pain specialists, a pain in the neck, in the New Zealand Herald on March 16. 
 

General anaesthesia on babies: 'one brief dose, no damage to brain'

Auckland paediatric anaesthetist Dr Niall Wilton was quoted in the New Zealand Herald on March 5, speaking about the landmark international research into the effect of anaesthesia on young children. The results of the General Anaesthesia compared to Spinal anaesthesia (GAS) trial published in The Lancet in February conclude that one brief general anaesthetic in early childhood is unlikely to be harmful to long-term neurodevelopment but the safety of longer exposures remains unclear. Dr Wilton was involved with the GAS trial which was funded, in part, by ANZCA.


2019 Australia Day Award for Dr Richard Harris

Dr Harris won the award with his good friend and diving buddy, retired vet Dr Craig Challen, from Perth, received the award for their role in saving 12 boys from a flooded cave in Thailand. It is the first time the Australia Day Council has bestowed the honour on two state or territory finalists at once.

Other ANZCA and FPM fellows recognised in the 2019 Australia Day honours list were:

  • Former president Dr Michael Davies was appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division for his significant service to medicine in the field of anaesthesia, and to professional medical bodies.

  • Former FPM Dean, Dr Penny Briscoe, was appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division  for significant service to medicine and medical education, particularly to chronic pain management.

  • Former FPM Dean Professor Milton Cohen was appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division for significant service to medical education in the field of pain management.

  • Dr Christopher Peter Dodds, NSW, was awarded a Medal (OAM) in the General Division for his service to medicine as an anaesthetist.

  • Dr Christopher John Lowry, NSW, was awarded a Medal (OAM) in the General Division for his service to medicine as an anaesthetist.

Dr Harris and Dr Challen made headlines around the world for their role in rescuing a group of boys and their soccer coach from the flooded cave in Chiang Rai, where they had been trapped for more than two weeks.

 

An experienced cave diver, Dr Harris swam into the cave with a Thai medical team to triage the boys and determine their fitness to make the four kilometre journey through the flooded cave complex to safety. He was one of a group of 19 Australians who helped rescue the children as part of an international team.

 

Dr Harris administered a sedative to each of the boys before they left the ledge where they sheltered inside the mountain cave to calm them. British divers had requested Dr Harris help with the rescue mission. He left the cave only when the last boy was rescued each day.

South Australians sought for ROCKET trial
Hundreds of South Australians are being sought for the world's biggest medical trial looking at managing pain after surgery using ketamine. The ROCKet trial is run by the ANZCA Clinical Trials Network. The Adelaide Advertiser reported on the South Australian part of the trial on January 24. 
 
Anaesthetist awarded $4.88 million NHMRC grant

Fellow Professor Bernhard Riedel, Director of the Department of Anaesthesia, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne featured in extensive media reports on December 9 as a recipient of a $4.88 million NHMRC grant to study whether the type of anaesthetic used in cancer suRgery affects patient recovery and survival rates. The Vapor-C study (Volatile Anaesthesia and Perioperative Outcomes Related to Cancer) NHMRC grant follows an earlier pilot study funded by the ANZCA Research Foundation. An ANZCA media release was covered by in a front page story for the Sunday Herald Sun and more than 60 news oulets across Australia and New Zealand including ABC TV news and radio, SBS news, Nine News, Australian Associated Press, news.com.au, The Australian, 3AW, 2GB and Newstalk ZB New Zealand. 


Persistent pain: One in five New Zealanders suffer and many can't get good help

FPM New Zealand National Committee chair Professor Ted Shipton has been quoted on the need for more pain medicine specialist training positions in district health boards in a New Zealand Herald article. The article centred on a New Zealand Medical Journal editorial looking at the complexity of chronic pain and need for more resources. 


FPM calls for new national pain device register
An FPM media release distributed on November 26 calling for urgent action from the federal government to establish a national pain device implant registry attracted ABC radio news coverage across more than 50 stations across Australia. The media release followed a global "Implant Files" investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which found medical implants were poorly regulated in many countries putting thousands of lives at risk.

NZ anaesthetist calls for action on "tongue-tie" procedures on babies
Wellington anaesthetist Dr Graham Sharpe has written to the NZ Health Minister calling for urgent action to curb the trend for tongue-tie surgery on babies saying it is potentially dangerous,  painful and frequently unnecessary. Dr Sharpe was interviewed by Radio New Zealand and stuff.co.nz about the issue on November 21. 

NZ Anaesthesia ASM – Action needed in NZ to avoid US-style opioid crisis

Mayo clinic anaesthetist, Dr Steven Clendenen says New Zealand must move quickly if is to avoid the opioid epidemic that has gripped the US. Dr Clendenen shared the bleak reality of the crisis at the New Zealand Anaesthesia Annual Scientific Meeting in Auckland, He was backed up locally by New Zealand anaesthetist, Dr Mike Foss who also spoke at the conference. Dr Foss says some of the key drivers that have led to the US epidemic are present in New Zealand including an ageing population with increases in treatment for chronic illness. Both doctors appeared in a story by the Dominion Post on November 21.

 

NZ Anaesthesia ASM – New drugs failing against antiobiotic resistance

Middlemore Hospital's Clinical Head of Infectious Diseases Dr Stephen McBride says new drugs have failed to keep pace with new breeds of super drugs. He was a keynote speaker at the New Zealand Anaesthesia Annual Scientific Meeting in Auckland. He was interviewed by Radio New Zealand on November 9, attracting an audience of 87,000 people. He was also interviewed  by The Dominion Post on November 15. Another speaker, Dr Steven Clendenen from the Mayo Clinic in the US, was also interviewed on Radio New Zealand on November 8 about how anaesthetists can help in solving the opioid crisis.  


Anaesthetist Dr Richard "Harry" Harris honoured  

Cave diver Dr Harris has been named South Australia's Australian of the Year after his key role in rescuing 12 boys and their coach from a Thailand cave earlier this year. His friend and diving partner on the mission veterinarian Dr Dave Challen was awarded Western Australia's Australian of the Year. They are both now in the running for the 2019 Australian of the Year award which is announced on January 25, the eve of Australia Day.

 

FPM Dean and Vice-Dean interviewed on ABC 

Dr Meredith Craigie and Dr Mick Vagg were interviewed live in the studio by ABC Far North radio morning host Kier Shorey on October 19 about the Spring meeting in Cairns. The 20 minute segmen covered a range of topics including opioids, medicinal cannabis and private health insurance reforms. 

 

National Anaesthesia Day 2018

We shared our new patient information fact sheet on cosmetic surgery as part of National Anaesthesia Day and issued a media release on it. The release was picked up by the Herald Sun’s medical reporter Grant McArthur and reached an audience of more than 500,000 readers in print and online. The story was syndicated to eight other News Ltd publications reaching a total audience of over one million people. ANZCA President Dr Rod Mitchell was also interviewed  under syndication for 70 radio news broadcasts that aired across Australia including the Triple M regional network, FOX-FM in Melbourne and 4BC in Brisbane and a 10 minute segment on cosmetic surgery by Perth 6PR morning radio host Gareth Parker.

Another very positive story done in the lead-up to National Anaesthesia Day was with Professor Britta Regli-Von Ungern-Sternberg at the Perth Children’s Hospital who was featured by Channel 9’s national medical reporter Gaby Rogers on October 10 about her study into chocolate-flavoured painkillers for children, a research project that has received ANZCA Research Foundation funding. The story was broadcast to more than 30 metropolitan and regional stations reaching an audience of over 1.5 million people.
 
ANZCA councillor Dr Nigel Robertson spoke about National Anaesthesia Day on Radio New Zealand and we encourage you to take the time to listen to this 16-minute interview which was warm, informative and on message. Healthcentral.nz ran a comprehensive online story here.  The Otago Daily Times ran a story "You are getting drowsy" and interviewed Dunedin Hospital anaesthetist Dr Andrew Smith.  
 
All the media releases can be found here
 
WA anaesthetists in bike crash accidents

ANZCA councillor Dr Chris Cokis and fellow Dr Andrew Miller were interviewed by The West Australian on October 5 for a page one story “Triple Bike Crash Blow” about three WA anaesthetists Dr John Thompson, Dr Bruce Powell and Dr Andrew Heard who have been seriously injured in separate cycling accidents in recent weeks. Dr Miller and Dr Cokis said the accidents had sent shockwaves to the anaesthetic community in WA.
 

Conjoined twins from Bhutan to be separated

Dr Ian McKenzie, Director of the Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Management at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital has featured prominently in news reports about the hospital’s surgery on Bhutanese 14-month old twin girls Nima and Dawa Pelden.
 

Pholcodine and cough medicines

Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Anaesthetic Allergy Group (ANZAAG) specialist anaesthetist Dr Paul McAleer was interviewed for a Channel Nine news segment broadcast on October 2 about the group’s push to have pholcodine restricted to prescription-only access because of its link to anaesthetic anaphylaxis. The segment was aired on 59 Channel Nine news broadcasts across Australia and reached an audience of more than 800,000 people. Dr McAleer was also interviewed by Radio 2GB evening host Luke Grant in an eight minute interview on October 3 and this reached an audience of 60,000 people.
 

Private health insurance reforms

Fellow Dr Marc Russo was interviewed for ABC online, The World Today and radio news on October 1 about proposed changes to private health insurance cover for millions of Australians and concerns that people with chronic pain will be worse off. FPM, Pain Australia and the Australian Pain Society have been consulting with the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt about the changes. The coverage attracted 700,000 people.
 

Opioid overdoses

Fellow Dr Jenny Stevens was interviewed for a four minute segment Most overdose deaths now due to prescription drugs which aired on the Channel Ten TV program The Project on September 28. The segment reached an audience of 600,000 people nationally.
 

Medicinal cannabis  

FPM’s Vice-Dean Dr Mick Vagg was interviewed by the Cairns Post about why consistent access to good quality, co-ordinated pain medication is a better option for patients than medicinal cannabis. The September 23 story referred to the FPM Spring meeting in Cairns next month and FPM’s position that the only responsible way to use cannabis-related products in a pain setting is in a properly conducted clinical trial. The print story was syndicated to nine other News Limited online sites including the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, the Geelong Advertiser and the Courier-Mail reaching a readership of 100,000 people.
 

Warning on opioids and sleeping tablets

FPM’s joint media release with Scriptwise warning against combining opioids and sleeping tablets was included in the Health Matters column in The Australian by health editor Sean Parnell on September 20. FPM Dean Dr Meredith Craigie was quoted in “The dope on pharmaceuticals” article which reached an audience of 95,000 people.

The opioid epidemic

Fellow Dr Jennifer Stevens was quoted in a Daily Telegraph article Taking a united stand on scourge about Australia’s opioid epidemic on September 21. Dr Stevens said people were not aware of how dangerous strong opioids can be. The article reached 233,000 readers.


Doctor stress

The college’s review of guidelines for doctor stress and fatigue is mentioned in a September 10 Illawarra Mercury article on burnout among young doctors.   


FPM and ScriptWise warn against combining opioids and sleeping tablets

FPM Dean, Dr Meredith Craigie, was interviewed by ABC online for a report which ran on International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, to raise awareness of accidental overdoses of combining prescription drugs. Dr Craigie said the risk was caused by the drugs depressing the central nervous system. The article followed a joint FPM ScriptWise media release warning of the dangers of combining prescription drugs. The 800 word article reached an audience of 232,000 people. Dr Craigie was also interviewed for ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program on August 28 about real time prescription monitoring, and this reached an audience of 138,000 people.  

 

New Zealand fellows in the news

Dr Malcolm Stuart appeared in an article on August 12 in The News, celebrating the 1000th patient in the small South Island town of Dunstan to be treated on the touring surgical bus in August.
 
Dr Michael Kalkoff, a Northland District Health Board (DHB) consultant anaesthetist/intensivist, was quoted in the New Zealand Herald commenting on the use of a “NEMO” – a new Telehealth device to link DHBs, and provide advice to colleagues in Kaitaia Hospital.
 

Hospital emergency numbers

The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed FANZCA Dr Rob Hackett about a campaign to standardise Australian hospital emergency numbers. The move to have a uniform number is supported by ANZCA, the Australian Resuscitation Council, and the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard. The August 22 story attracted 90,000 readers.
 

Focus on chronic pain

Anaesthetist and pain medicine specialist Dr Jo Rotherham, chair of the FPM Queensland regional committee, was interviewed for ABC Radio Brisbane’s Focus program by host Emma Griffiths for a 30 minute panel and question and answer segment on chronic pain. The August 27 segment attracted 23,000 listeners. 


Dr Richard “Harry” Harris

Adelaide anaesthetist and cave diver Dr Richard Harris was awarded the Star of Courage, Australia’s second highest civilian bravery decoration, and the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his role in rescuing the Wild Boars soccer team from a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. Dr Harris’s diving mate Dr Craig Challen was also presented with the Star of Courage and an OAM. Six police and a navy diver were awarded bravery medals for their roles in the international rescue effort.

Melbourne fellow Dr Peter Seal was a guest on the ABC Radio Melbourne “Known Unknowns” segment this morning with fill-in host Virginia Trioli demystifying anaesthesia for listeners. Co-host Sally Warhaft told listeners that her father is a retired anaesthetist and she was keen to find out more about the specialty and the sedation that Dr Richard Harris used when preparing to lead the Wild Boars soccer team out of the cave. The segment starts at 1:35, and runs for about 25 minutes. 

College president Dr Rod Mitchell was interviewed on ABC Radio Adelaide’s afternoon program by host Sonya Feldhoff about the specialty and the differences between sedation and anaesthesia following the successful rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team from the cave in Northern Thailand, by anaesthetist Dr Richard ‘Harry” Harris and the international rescue team. During the 15 minute interview, Dr Mitchell explained how Dr Harris found himself in a situation of performing a procedure in an inappropriate environment that could be fatal. The segment attracted 20,000 listeners in Adelaide.
 

 

Environmental impact of healthcare

Fellow Dr Georgina Imberger, a specialist anaesthetist at Western Health in Melbourne, was interviewed by ABC Radio Melbourne about her presentation on the environmental impact of anaesthetic gases at the Victorian Regional Committee “Rising temperatures, the heat is on” meeting on July 28. The interview ran on ABC news bulletins in Melbourne and another eight regional Victorian ABC stations reaching an audience of 80,000 people.

 

Fentanyl

One of the college’s past presidents, Professor Kate Leslie, was interviewed by the ABC’s Background Briefing program about the potency of fentanyl for the program’s investigation into drug tampering by the Queensland Ambulance Service. Professor Leslie said it would be unusual for there to be no effect if a patient had been administered fentanyl for pain relief.

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