Saturday, December 31, 2005


'Dead' man found alive in morgue

A 95-year-old man was moved from a hospital morgue in Portugal to a care unit after he was heard coughing several hours after a doctor declared him dead, Portuguese media reported today.

Family members called an ambulance to bring Manuel Lino to a public hospital in the town of Abrantes, some 120km northeast of Lisbon, on December 1 because he was not feeling well, daily Jornal de Noticias said. When Lino arrived at the hospital the doctor who examined him inside of the ambulance said he could not find a pulse and ordered his body sent to the morgue, it added. "With great pain we left him there and returned home where we started preparing the funeral," Lino's stepson-in-law, Joao Baco, told the paper.

Later that same day the family received a telephone call from an emergency services worker informing them that Lino was alive after all, Baco said. "We can't understand how someone can make a mistake like this, causing so much pain to a family," he added.

Lino, who was bedridden before being taken to the hospital, was discharged on December 7 and spent Christmas with his family, Baco said. Hospital officials said they had opened an inquiry into the incident.



Waiting times for Queensland's public dental services have been described as "atrocious", with some patients waiting up to five years for a basic check-up, according to the Australian Dental Association. And the continuing inability to attract staff will mean that significant funding increases by the state government would be unlikely to alleviate waiting times.

ADA Queensland immediate past president Dr Michael Foley, who works as a public sector dentist for Queensland Health, said the average length people were waiting for basic services was greater than three years. "At Logan it is five years. Where I used to work at Inala it is 4« years. South Brisbane, where I currently am, it is four years," Dr Foley said. "These are people we are getting off the waiting list to do check ups, fillings, basic cut and polishes. This is simply unacceptable - it is atrocious. We all know anything in public health there is going to involve waiting lists - our patients accept that. But to be waiting that long is an abrogation of responsibility by the State Government."

Figures provided by Queensland Health and Health Minister Stephen Robertson confirm Dr Foley's claim on the length of times people were waiting for public dental services. But Queensland Health claimed that the average wait decreased by 11 weeks between July 2004 and November 2005 and that patients requiring emergency care were generally seen within 24 hours. In response to a question on notice regarding the Gold Coast's Palm Beach Dental Clinic, Mr Robertson admitted the numbers of patients being seen had declined. "In 2003-04 there were 9901 occasions of service provided by the Palm Beach Oral Health Clinic. In 2004-05 there were 8773 occasions of service provided by the Palm Beach Oral Health Clinic," Mr Robertson said.

Dr Foley said many young dentists were going into private practice where they could get significantly better pay and conditions than working for Queensland Health. Dr Foley said young dentists working in the public sector were faced with doing very basic dental work, while their colleagues in private practice could perform a greater range of dental services to develop their skills. He said government funding increases would not offset the problem. "They can pour as much money in it as they want, but if we can't recruit the staff we won't be able to see the patients," Dr Foley said. "Dentistry has changed in last 20 to 30 years, but government dentistry hasn't and dentists are voting with their feet. They are fed up with angry patients who are fed up with having to wait for years."

Opposition Health spokesman Dr Bruce Flegg said public dental services in Queensland were "over-stretched and virtually inaccessible for the majority of Queenslanders". "They are another example of making unmet promises to people instead of telling them the true status of the services," he said.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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