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Latest Community News
09

HealthPathways helps GPs respond quickly to meningococcal outbreak in Tasmania

An urgent update to Tasmanian HealthPathways enabled GPs to respond quickly to a meningococcal outbreak in Tasmania in late July.

Dr Vivien Wright has seen how quickly diseases can spread if the warning signs are left unchecked.

The Tasmanian HealthPathways clinical editor graduated from the University of Cape Town and spent five years in Africa working in hospital and community medicine.

This experience, combined with her long career in general practice in Tasmania, meant she didn’t hesitate when news broke of a second case of meningococcal disease in Australia’s island state.

“I knew local GPs would need to be at the ready straight after those first two cases were confirmed,” says Dr Wright, who is also a qualified medical acupuncturist.

“And the best way to help them get ready was to make sure all the very latest information they needed was in the Tasmanian HealthPathways.”

In late July, Dr Wright contacted Susan Grey, the Regional Group Manager of the HealthPathways writing team for Tasmania, with an alert about the imminent need to update content on the Meningococcal Disease pathway and Immunisation pathways, with information about the current availability in Tasmania of meningococcal vaccines. At the same time, the Tasmanian Government was launching a formal response to the spike in meningococcal cases targeting all Tasmanians aged between six weeks and 21 years old.

A rapid-fire back and forth of communication across the Tasman followed, with the relevant pathways fully updated and live within 24 hours.

The Health System news on the home page was also updated, so users were aware of the outbreak and the state government response.

While there were no meningococcal cases in the first half of 2018, GPs have confirmed nine cases since July.

“With something like meningococcal affecting children and youth, it seemed especially urgent to get the right information out there in case GPs were dealing with distressed or confused parents,” Dr Wright says.

“That’s why the HealthPathways system works so well - it gives those at the general practice coalface a one-stop-shop for all the key details.”

Now, when a practitioner looks up the meningococcal disease and immunisation pathways, there is a Clinical editor’s note about the W and B strains and the relevant vaccination responses.

A Practice point highlights the need to treat someone immediately and arrange urgent ambulance transfer to hospital if meningococcal is suspected, even in the absence of classical signs.

Find out more:

Contact Dr Vivien Wright, GP Clinical Leader / Editor Tasmanian HealthPathways, email vwright@primaryhealthtas.com.au to learn more about how effectively these pathways were used to support GPs during the recent meningococcal outbreak.