Nurse accused of care home murders allegedly forged disclosure check

A 22-year-old nurse from Rotterdam has been charged with murdering six patients and attempting to kill six more by giving them overdoses of insulin. Prosecutors investigated 15 suspicious deaths of patients at nursing homes where Rahiied A. worked as a trainee or locum nurse between January 2016 and November 2017, NOS reported. In three cases no charges were brought because investigators could not establish his involvement. A.'s work included evening and weekend shifts when he was alone with patients. Concerns first arose after a female resident in one of the care homes became seriously ill and was taken to hospital, where doctors found a high quantity of insulin in her blood. The details emerged during a procedural hearing in the case, which has been ongoing since A. was arrested last year. At least three bodies of people who lived in the nursing homes in Rotterdam, Puttershoek and Ridderkerk have been disinterred during the investigation. A. is also accused of stealing medicines and medical documents and falsifying his 'declaration of behaviour' (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag), which is a prerequisite for jobs that involve working with vulnerable people. Prosecution service spokesman Ernst Pols said A.'s motivation for the alleged killings had not been discussed in court. 'The suspect has talked to the police, but exactly what was said will be revealed during the substantial court hearings in the case next year,' he said.  More >

Impact cancer treatment not clear for many

People suffering from cancer are not given enough information about how their treatment will impact their daily lives in the long term, a survey by the Dutch federation of cancer patient organisations NFK has found. Over a third of the 3,785 (ex) cancer patients polled said doctors failed to discuss any problems that may occur as a result of the treatment, which often include tiredness, concentration and memory loss and diminished sexual functioning. Half of the patients said there had been no discussion about what their future plans were or what they considered important for their quality of life. According to the federation, people with cancer have little time to decide on the kind of treatment they want even though it can have major repercussions on how they live their lives, both in the short and the long term, the NFK said. Eight out of 10 patients said they wanted the treatment to be a joint decision, which is why the NFK wants to introduce a procedure called ‘Samen beslissen (decide together) in which doctor and patient discuss the pros and cons of a treatment. According to the NFK, medical professionals must explain clearly what the medical options for the patient mean for the patient’s ability to have sex, work and have social activities.  More >

Thousands die from pollution in NL

Some 8,000 people a year die in the Netherlands from the effects of air pollution and 800 deaths are directly linked to coal fired power plants, Dutch scientists say. The number was extrapolated from the findings in The Lancet Countdown, an annual study monitoring the effects of climate change on human health. According to the study, trends in climate change continue to be an ‘unacceptable risk’ for global human health and the same goes for fine particulate pollution, which causes respiratory disease, and CO2 emissions. Fine particulate pollution is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets which can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects when inhaled. ‘It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how many people die from particulate pollution produced by coal fired plants. The figures are an estimate but we are talking about many victims,' physician Peter Blankestijn, part of the 27-strong team of international scientists responsible for the world-wide study, told broadcaster NOS.  The main conclusions of the study are that climate change continues to be an unacceptable risk to health world-wide, and that too little progress in limiting emissions is not only putting people’s health in danger but the health systems on which they depend. Climate change The nature and extent of climate change will determine the future of public health around the world in centuries to come, the study states, and it is vital to raise awareness of the problems this will cause for public health care. ‘Our findings are also telling the medical profession to work in a more sustainable way,’ Blankestijn told NOS. ‘I see patients for tests they can easily do at home, or with the aid of a smartwatch. That means fewer trips to the hospital and less pollution. The hospital as a building will be less important for patients in future.’ The Dutch team supports the government’s pledge to close of all coal fired plants by 2030 but stipulates it must be held to its promise. It also recommends more support for electric means of transport. Some 1,150 people die from fine particulate emissions produced by traffic, the study found. Cities must also have more green zones to help mitigate the effects of heat waves, the researchers said.  More >

Hospital cleared to make cheaper drug

Amsterdam’s AMC teaching hospital can make its own version of a licenced drug to treat a rare metabolic disorder but must adapt its production methods, health ministry inspectors said on Wednesday. The inspectors were responding to a complaint by by Italian pharmaceuticals company Leadiant, which produces the drug henodeoxycholic acid or CDCA, used to treat a rare metabolic disorder The hospital began making its own version of the drug in April because it was no longer covered by health insurance after the price shot up. That month Leadiant ramped up the price by around 500% so it now costs some €200,000 per patient per year. The hospital said at the time it could produce the drug for €25,000. In August the hospital was ordered to recall the drug by health inspectors because of fears the raw materials might contain impurities, a worry which turned out to be true. However, rather than ban the hospital from picking up production again, the inspectorate has said it can continue, if it changes the production process. It must also stop 'advertising' the drug - by promoting it to other patients via the media, a second complaint submitted by Leadiant. Hospital pharmacies make their own medicines more often but this case is unusual because of the financial considerations. The hospital is offering ‘a social and economically-responsible alternative to a registered medicine which is so expensive that it is inaccessible to patients,’ the AMC said in April. Just 60 patients in the Netherlands suffer from the disease CTX which the drug is used to treat.  More >

Birth control pills shortage continues

Pharmacies throughout the Netherlands are finding it difficult to buy enough stocks of some types of contraceptive pills, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday. The main cause of the shortage, which affects 1.2 million women who take Mycrogynon 30, is the destruction of a large batch of the pills in September which failed safety tests. ‘If a sample of the pills is not up to the safety standards, the whole batch has to go. That means tonnes of pills,’ Martin Favie of the association of generic medication producers Bogin told the paper. But the shortage is also caused by insurers' insistence that pharmacies provide cheaper, generic drugs where possible, pharmacists’ association KNMP said. The Dutch demand for the cheapest drug causes producers and suppliers to limit their stock and that means that any hitch in the production process can cause shortages within weeks.  More >

Insurer CZ kills off reincarnation therapy

Reincarnation therapy will no longer be supported by health insurer CZ from January following a purge of treatments branded 'ridiculous' by its clients. Craniosacral therapy, which supposedly repairs damaged tissue and relieves tension in the spine through head massages, and Ayurveda, an Indian system of treatment focusing on longevity and vitality, are also being dropped from CZ's range of additional health packages. In reincarnation therapy, patients relive traumatic events from their own past or 'past lives' under hypnosis. All three have been described as forms of pseudoscience by medical practitioners. A spokesman for CZ said: 'We have been receiving complaints for a long time from clients who find it ridiculous that they are paying for treatments like this. Insurance premiums are rising and more people are shopping around between insurers. A growing number of people say patients should pay for these treatments themselves.' The spokesman admitted that a recent episode of satirical TV show Zondag met Lubach focusing on alternative medicine had boosted the feeling that insurers should no longer pay for unproven treatments. A poll by market research agency GfK found that 26% of those questioned were highly sceptical of reincarnation therapy, while just 3% considered it essential. Therapists whose clinics will no longer be funded have collected 18,000 signatures on a petition calling on CZ to reconsider its decision.  More >