News in brief: Dermatology clinic merger marks new trend; Oral minoxidil maintains alopecia remission; Discharge summary abbreviations cause confusion


Dermatology clinic merger marks new trend

A Brisbane dermatologist who has sold his medical practice for $10m to a national corporate chain says it the start of a US-style trend for private dermatology practices to amalgamate into larger groups.

Dr Shobhan Manoharan’s three Brisbane Skin clinics have been bought up by the Aura Medical Group, which is backed by Fortitude Investments.

He told the Courier Mail that the deal was the first big amalgamation in Australia of a group of private dermatology clinics but they were already happening in other areas of medical practice such as radiology.

“It is quite common in the US where 10% of dermatology practices are owned by larger groups. It will occur more and more here because there is a lot of appetite from funds,” he said


Oral minoxidil maintains alopecia remission

Low-dose oral  minoxidil  may have a role as long-term maintenance therapy following in alopecia areata remission, an Australian study has suggested.

A  retrospective  review  identified 24 patients at Sinclair Dermatology, Melbourne, who achieved clinical remission from alopecia areata with systemic minoxidil and continued on low dose maintenance treatment. The doses ranged from 0.25mg to 2.5mg and included oral and sublingual forms; while treatment duration  ranged from 0.5 to 10 years.

Based on previous studies the  predicted  relapse  rate  would have been 54% but the  observed relapse rate for alopecia areata was  17% (four patients)  with systemic  minoxidil  maintenance  therapy. One relapse was in a patient with acute  alopecia areata and  three had chronic alopecia areata. Relapses were minor in three (SALT 1-2%) and significant in one (SALT 10%). Three patients elected to discontinue minoxidil after sustained remission for personal reasons.

Writing in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, the study authors said the findings warranted long term prospective studies of low dose systemic minoxidil for remission of alopecia areata.


Discharge summary abbreviations cause confusion

Medical abbreviations used by specialists in hospital discharge summaries are often confusing to the GPs who receive them and also ambiguous for hospital colleagues and junior doctors, an Australian study has found.

A retrospective audit of 802 discharge summaries at a Queensland regional health service found that they contained an average of 17 abbreviations, and almost one in five GPs were unable to interpret at least one of them.

Almost all (94%) of GPs said that ambiguous abbreviations had a negative impact on patient care and 60% said they spent too much time of clarifying them. Abbreviations could also have multiple possible meanings in different contexts and led to confusion for 15% of junior doctors working in other departments of the same hospital, the study found.

While most had no problems with abbreviations such as Hb and IHD, the abbreviations that had widest range of misinterpretations or ‘don’t know’ responses included NAD, DEM, PE, LC, TGA, TCH and BAE.

The study authors said hospitals should adopt a standardised list of acceptable abbreviations for medical documentation, which is made available to both hospital medical staff and GPs.

They also noted that abbreviations were very location specific, with marked differences between those used by Melbourne and Sydney hospitals.

The findings are published in the Internal Medicine Journal.

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