3rd December 2013

A new clinic is about to slash specialist waiting times for people who have suffered their first epileptic seizure from one year to two weeks.

QUT School of Public Health and Social Work Adjunct Professor Christian Gericke, also CEO of the Wesley Research Institute, and Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH) neurologists Professor David Reutens, Associate Professor Lata Vadlamudi and Dr Jim Pelekanos received $75,000 from the QUT-based Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation (AusSHI), to evaluate a new first-seizure clinic at the RBWH.

Prof Gericke said his previous practice in European countries taught him the value of early treatment for people with suspected epilepsy. In the UK, for example, he said the standard was for new patients to be seen within two weeks. The current Queensland system operates a priority system and some new onset seizure patients have to wait up to a year to see an epilepsy specialist.

"Frankly I am appalled at how long the waiting times are for people who have suffered their first seizure, as these people are at a real risk of dying or of injuring themselves during a repeat seizure," he said.

"If patients are adequately treated and properly informed about their condition early on, they have a better chance of having a well-controlled condition. Obviously if there is a long wait to see a specialist and to get a diagnosis, then there is a greater chance that things can go wrong.

"We hope to show that the introduction of a first seizure clinic will improve patient satisfaction, quality of life and process-of-care outcomes through providing rapid access to specialist diagnosis and treatment. We also anticipate a reduction in health service costs, mainly through the avoidance of emergency admissions due to repeat seizures during the waiting period.

"We expect our project to change practice nationally and internationally by providing the world's first rigorous evaluation of a first seizure clinic."

AusHSI director Professor Nick Graves said the centre, based at QUT, brought together front-line health professionals and experienced and emerging researchers to deliver solutions to Australia's key health service challenges through better research.

"This is a good example of how a simple reconfiguration of health services might improve outcomes and could save resources overall. We are excited about the findings due in a year's time," Professor Graves said.

AusHSI's Round 2-2013 grants included $330,000 in Stimulus Grants to six projects and four, $10,000 PhD Scholarship top-ups. The next funding round will open in May 2014, and will have a funding pool of up to $500,000.

Info: http://www.aushsi.org.au/

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