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New epilepsy supports for patients and GPs


Jolyon Attwooll


14/11/2022 5:02:22 PM

The resources, including guidance targeted at GPs, offer support for managing the disease, which affects an estimated 151,000 Australians.
 

GP with patient
A risk management tool is now available for GPs to use in their practice with patients with epilepsy.

Epilepsy support organisations have flagged new resources which they say could help GPs manage the treatment of patients with the neurological disease.
 
The CEO of Epilepsy Action Australia (EAA) Carol Ireland is looking to draw attention to the availability of clinical nurse consultants, funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care (DoH), who she says can help general practice with the development of chronic disease management plans.
 
Ms Ireland also said support is available to help GPs understand the different services available, with clinical consultants able to take part in joint telehealth appointments or accept patient referrals.
 
‘We’re particularly interested in those in rural and remote locations where there isn’t a neurologist or a tertiary health epilepsy unit down the road,’ she told newsGP.  
 
‘We’re just wanting to make that available for people to assist.’
 
Ms Ireland also hopes to raise the profile of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), which affects around one in every 1000 epilepsy patients each year, according to the organisation.
 
EAA describes SUDEP as ‘often unwitnessed’, as well as something that takes place while patients sleep, with the cause of death not identified by post-mortem examination.
 
While the causes are still under investigation, EAA says there is a growing body of evidence about associated risk factors.
 
Among the new EAA tools is a SUDEP and Seizure Safety Checklist, described as an evidence-based risk management tool for GPs to use in their practice with patients with epilepsy.
 
It is aimed at raising awareness of modifiable risks and helping patients minimise them with lifestyle changes and seizure management.
 
Ms Ireland said that SUDEP is not always well understood or recognised, even among medical practitioners.
 
Separately, this week also sees the launch of Epilepsy Smart Australia, a program funded by the Federal Government, which is being described as a ‘one-stop shop for those living with epilepsy’. It includes best practice fact sheets, as well as support providing education in schools, workplaces, and the disability and aged care sectors.
 
Both sets of resources are separate to each other and external to the RACGP, which was not formally involved in their development. 
 
There are an estimated 151,000 people in Australia living with epilepsy, according to the most recent estimate published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
 
See Epilepsy Action Australia: Our Services and Epilepsy Smart Australia for full details.

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