1019. Hon JACQUI BOYDELL to the parliamentary secretary
representing the Minister for Health:
I refer to the recent case of Andrea
Williams presenting to Southern Cross Hospital after being bitten by a king
brown snake. For members' advice, some members of Andrea's
family are in the public gallery today. This is a very important issue for
regional Western Australia.
(1) Was the
appropriate antivenom available at Merredin Health Service, Southern Cross
Hospital or Kalgoorlie Health Campus at the time of the presentation?
(2) If no to (1),
why was the antivenom not available, when a Department of Health report from
March 2018 advised that four doses were available at Kalgoorlie Health Campus?
(3) What is the cost and shelf life
of antivenoms for snake bites?
(4) What is the
Department of Health's policy with respect to the availability and
application of venom-testing kits and antivenoms at regional and remote
Hon ALANNA CLOHESY
I thank the honourable member for
some notice of the question.
(2) The required
antivenom was available at Kalgoorlie Health Campus, Merredin Hospital held
brown snake antivenom and Southern Cross Hospital held no antivenom.
(3) The cost for
the five major antivenoms stocked is: $361 per phial for brown snake antivenom;
$1 587 per phial for black snake antivenom; $453 per phial for tiger snake
antivenom; $1 617 per phial for death adder antivenom; and $2 348 per phial for
polyvalent antivenom. The shelf life for the antivenoms is identified
individually by the manufacturer via the expiration date and not by a standard
(4) The WA
Country Health Service has been reviewing its guidelines since July 2018,
following changes in the management of snake envenomation at a national level
and the availability of specialist medical support through the emergency
telehealth service, which has enabled more comprehensive assessment of
suspected snakebite patients in country health services. WACHS is progressively
expanding antivenom stock across 81 sites to ensure the availability and use of
antivenom in patients who present with symptoms of snakebite envenomation.
Snake envenomation is complex and not all manifestations of envenomation can be
treated with antivenom. Antivenom administration is not without risks including
variable rates of anaphylaxis—up to 40 per cent for some antivenoms.
WACHS supports the minimum stock levels defined by the Western Australian
Therapeutic Advisory Group critical medicines list for the antivenom. However, it has been determined that an
expanded availability of antivenoms can be supported.