News in brief: Direct GP referrals to sleep studies ‘easier’ from next month; Change of guard for the Australian Asthma Handbook Guidelines Committee

Thursday, 18 Feb 2021

Direct GP referrals to sleep studies ‘easier’ from next month
From next month direct GP referrals for overnight diagnostic sleep study items 12203 and 12250 will require a ‘STOP-Bang’ screening score of 3 rather than 4. 

The change comes after a paper found that in patients with an Epworth Sleepiness score of 8 or more, reducing the STOP-Bang cut-off score for referral for sleep studies from 4 to 3 would enhance detection of patients with significant OSA (from 30% to 50%) without markedly increasing the number of false positives (from 6% to 8%). 

“These changes improve access to diagnostic sleep testing as they make it easier for patients to qualify for a sleep study, without first needing to see a sleep or respiratory medicine specialist,” the Australasian Sleep Association said in a press release.

Change of guard for the Australian Asthma Handbook Guidelines Committee
The National Asthma Council Australia has renewed the multidisciplinary Guidelines Committee for its Australian Asthma Handbook.

Joining the Guidelines Committee is GP Professor Nick Zwar as the new Chair, paediatric respiratory physician Dr Louisa Owens and respiratory, sleep and allergy physician Dr Gregory Katsoulotos.

They will replace outgoing Chair Professor Amanda Barnard, general practitioner, Professor Adam Jaffé, paediatric respiratory physician and Associate Professor Janet Rimmer, allergist and respiratory physician. For more information on the Committee click here.

Update on safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes on the horizon
The NHMRC has reiterated its view that there is still insufficient evidence to claim that e-cigarettes are safe or effective in assisting people to quit smoking.

In a submission to the Select Committee inquiry to Tobacco Harm reduction, the NHMRC say an expert committee is currently updating its 2017 statement on e-cigarettes, which will include a review on the impact of marketing of e-cigarettes on individual and population health. 

In scoping the work for the updated statement, due to be published later this year, the NHMRC said it had found evidence indicating that there may be a link between the marketing of e-cigarettes and e-cigarette use.

“Currently, the portrayal of e-cigarettes online is strongly influenced by e-cigarette companies and advertisers, and an analysis in the US of online and social media platforms suggests that e-cigarettes are discussed in a neutral or positive context. Public health concerns do not appear to be reflected in ongoing social media dialogue,” the submission stated.

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