News in brief: More info on Philips respiratory device recall; Expert recommendations on interstitial lung abnormalities; Call for Medicare review of procedural specialist incomes

More information on Philips respiratory device recall

The TGA has provided additional advice on the Philips recall action for CPAP, Bi-Level PAP devices and mechanical ventilators.

The regulator is urging users of the devices affected by the Urgent Product Defect Correction action to register them with the producer, though it acknowleges that Philips has been overwhelmed with  enquiries about the safety concerns related to the polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam.

The TGA says users should register their devices on the Philips support website and they will be repaired or replaced at no cost.

“It is strongly recommended that you do not attempt to remove the foam yourself and then continue using your device,” it warns.

The company has also released additional clinical information about the particulate hazard from foam degradation and the chemical emissions from the PE-PUR foam.

Expert recommendations on interstitial lung abnormalities

Australian respiratory specialists have contributed to an expert consensus-based recommendations on identifying and referring patients with clinically relevant interstitial lung abnormalities (ILA) that may represent undiagnosed early-stage or subclinical interstitial lung disease (ILD).

A group of 44 international respiratory physicians and radiologists reached consensus that chest CT evidence of honeycombing or traction bronchiectasis/bronchiolectasis likely defined a potentially progressive ILD, and warranted reporting as a clinically significant finding on lung cancer screening CT scans, and a referral to a pulmonologist with ILD expertise.

There was also consensus that patients with systemic sclerosis should undergo  screening for the presence of ILD, according to the consensus statement co-authored by Associate Professor Tamera Corte, director of interstitial lung disease services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney.

The guidance is published in Chest.

Call for Medicare to review procedural specialist incomes

Procedural specialists are overpaid compared to other specialists and there needs to be a review of the inequities in the Medicare Benefits Schedule, according to two senior physicians.

The high incomes for procedural specialists are not justified by their long years of training, level of skill or the hours worked compared to other physicians or GPs, according to Dr Kerry Breen and Dr Kerry Goulston.

Writing in Pearls and Irritations, they say the imbalance in incomes between specialties has become wider and more distorted in recent years because of a flaw in the original MBS when Medicare was set up favoured procedural work over consultations.

The distortion is now deterring medical graduates from working in low income specialities, and there is an urgent need for the federal health department to commission a new study to review the 2005 Productivity Commission report on how to address  the income bias.

“Such a study should also be invited to examine whether the earning differentials between various groups of doctors are justifiable and are in the best interests of the health care system and patients,” they suggest.

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