News in brief: Surprise findings on stroke risk in severe COVID-19; AI may predict seizure duration; Medicare claims watchdog to get new powers on repayments

11 Nov 2021

Surprise findings on stroke risk in severe COVID-19

A generalised state of hyper coagulopathy in patients with severe COVID-19 disease may be a contributing factor to a high risk of ischaemic stroke, new research suggests.

A registry study conducted by Dutch researchers found that occurrence rate of ischaemic stroke was 1.8% among 2147 patients admitted with SARS-CoV-2 infection with a higher rate of 2.7% among patients admitted to the intensive care units.

The median time between onset of SARS-CoV-2 infection symptoms and stroke diagnosis was 14 days, suggesting that ischaemic stroke was not the first manifestation but rather an occurrence after the SARS-CoV-2 infection had already been diagnosed, they noted. A surprising finding was that pulmonary embolism was more common in patients with ischaemic stroke than in those without stroke (21.1% versus 7.6%), and also that risk was similar regardless of preexisting cardiovascular risk factors, the study investigators said in the journal Stroke.

AI may predict seizure duration

Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can be used on the seizure onset pattern in a patient’s iEEG to predict whether an epileptic seizure will have a short or long duration, according to Melbourne researchers.

Analysing data from 2954 seizures in 10 patients, researchers from Melbourne University derived patient-specific classifiers to use in an algorithm method to predict seizure duration given the first few seconds from the onset.

When the algorithm methodology was applied to the data it achieved an average AUC performance of 0.7 for the five of the 10 patients with above chance prediction performance.

The researchers said their method had a lower performance for patients with a large number of seizures, and it was possible the patterns for these patients have changed during the time of tracking.

They said the findings justified further development, and the method could potentially be extended to detect status epilepticus

“This could help to protect patients from dangerous situations with high risk of death by giving them warnings, they wrote in the European Journal of Neurology.

Medicare claims watchdog to get new powers on repayments

The powers of the Professional Services Review, to investigate and punish inappropriate Medicare claims will be strengthened under an amendment that will extend compliance powers to corporate entities.

A bill going through parliament seeks to extend the reach of the PSR scheme from individual medical practitioners, to hold responsible anyone who employs or contracts practitioners including corporate entities who may offer Medicare services.

The amendment will also strengthen the debt recovery powers of the PSR to seek repayment of Medicare claims from corporate entities and boost fines for withholding information or refusing to cooperate with investigators.

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