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Survey reveals epilepsy care levels amongst Irish family doctors

5 April, 2006

A
new survey of family doctors in Ireland has, it is claimed, highlighted
areas where the care given to people with epilepsy is lacking.

Irishhealth.com
reports the findings of a survey by researchers at Cork University
Hospital, who sent questionnaires to 375 family doctors in County Cork
and County Kerry.  One hundred and seventy-five responses were received.

The results, published in the Irish Medical Journal,
showed that 87 per cent of family doctors said that they initially
refer patients to a neurologist for further assessment. However, most
doctors were unhappy with the levels of access to neurologists.

Around 30 per cent of family doctors would consider changing the therapy that had been started by a neurologist.  The
researchers commented on this figure, saying there may be an
over-reliance on specialist services, going against the idea that most
epilepsy cases should be managed by family doctors, with only the most
complicated cases being referred to a specialist. However, the
researchers also said that this over-reliance on neurologists may also
be a reflection of the standard of education about brain conditions
available to family and junior doctors. Another reason given was the
possible failure of hospital neurology services to inform doctors on
advances and changes in neurology.

The
study revealed a wide variation in family doctors' familiarity with
different anti-epileptic drugs.  The researchers suggested this may be
due to the consultant prescribing practices in the region, with a high
preference for lamotrigine and gabapentin and less preference for
oxcarbamazepine and tiagabine.