News in brief: Dermatologist numbers increase revealed by AHPRA; Maternal influence on child eczema; Transparency register to reveal surgeon outcomes

Wednesday, 24 Nov 2021

Dermatologist numbers increase revealed by AHPRA

Australia has added more than 100 dermatologists over the last five years, with 632 medical practitioners now registered in the specialist category of dermatology field of practice, according to the latest statistics on medical registration released by AHPRA.

The figures show that numbers have increased from 531 registered in 2016, and that dermatology has an equal gender balance with 49% of practitioners being female vs 51% male. According to AHPRA figures there are six dermatologists registered in the ACT, 226 in NSW, one in the Northern Territory, 112 in Queensland, 52 in South Australia, six in Tasmania, 166 in Victoria, and 55 in WA, with 8 having no place of practice notified.

Overall, there are 130,476 registered medical practitioners in total in Australia, and 11,114 practitioners registered as specialists.

Maternal influence on child eczema

Childhood eczema is associated with maternal asthma during pregnancy, according to data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

The study which followed up 5000 children born around 2004 found that wheezing and eczema were most prevalent when the children were 2–3 years old (26.0 and 17.8% respectively) and were least prevalent when the children were 14–15 years old (7.3 and 9.5% respectively).

“The age at onset of wheezing, asthma or eczema shows a pattern in our study with increasing prevalence in early childhood and decreasing prevalence during adolescents.”

However the researchers noted that other maternal health factors such as smoking and obesity during pregnancy were associated with asthma but not the risk of their children having eczema.

“Our findings suggest that careful medical and obstetric monitoring, improved specific age-sex wise risk factor prevention where wheezing, asthma and eczema effect children and health promotion for pregnant women and children by the policy makers are highly warranted and may help protect child health,” they concluded.

Read more in Archives of Public Health

Transparency register to reveal surgeon outcomes

A bill that will require surgeons and hospitals to be transparent about their surgical performance outcomes on a public register has had its second reading in Senate.

The Health Insurance Legislation Amendment (Transparent Patient Outcomes) Bill 2021 will establish Transparent Patient Outcomes registers for a range of medical specialties such as plastic, reconstructive and orthopaedic surgery, which its proponents say will allow consumers to make informed choices after viewing the performance of individual practitioners and patient outcomes for procedures they are poised to undergo.

Speaking on 23 November, Senator Stirling Griff said the transparency register will include information such as the number and type of surgical procedures performed by a practitioner, their surgical revision rate, their patient mortality rate, any prosthesis device they may use, patient data and any other information deemed relevant to that specialty. This information would also be available at the facility level.

“Such a database would provide objective comparable statistics and would provide prospective patients factual information through which they could exercise greater self-determination in their choice of practitioner (rather than relying on trust, assurance or referrals) and the database could also serve to reassure an anxious patient,” he said.

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