News in brief: Respiratory guidelines should incorporate measures learnt from COVID; Top 10 research priorities for COPD; Medicare claims watchdog to get new powers on repayments


Respiratory guidelines should incorporate measures learnt from COVID

Respiratory disease patients want to retain masks and social distancing as infection-prevention measures after the Covid pandemic, UK research shows.

A survey which found a high level of acceptance among respiratory patients for continuing infection control strategies post-pandemic suggests respiratory guidelines should embrace the approach.

The survey of 4442 people with asthma, bronchiectasis and COPD found 47% intended to continue to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces. Furthermore, 61% said they thought everyone should be required to wear a mask during flu season.

Women, those with bronchiectasis, and older people were generally more cautious, the authors led by Professor John Hurst from University College of London reported in Thorax.

“Infection control strategies are affordable and not pathogen specific. Their dramatic impact during the pandemic indicates that guideline committees in asthma, bronchiectasis and COPD should consider including them in future advice on preventing exacerbations,” they wrote.

The authors cautioned that the potential benefits of measures must be balanced against potential harms, adding that it was possible that by reducing regular exposure to common respiratory viruses there could be increased risk of more severe disease over time.


Top 10 research priorities for COPD

A panel of international experts have drawn up a list of the top 10 research priorities for COPD, with the top priority being better ways for smoking cessation,

The ranked set of COPD research priorities that need to be addressed over the next 10 years was based on 230 ideas from 62 international experts, including researchers from Newcastle, Sydney and Adelaide in Australia. Three of the top 10 priorities called for research on improved screening and accurate diagnostic methods for COPD in primary care, and six of the 20 top priorities were focused on feasible and cost-effective pulmonary rehabilitation delivery and access.

Other top priorities for research included better understanding of risk factors for COPD, development of effective training programs and guidelines and encouraging physical activity, according to the paper published in the Journal of Global Health.

The top 10 priorities are:

  1. Developing new strategies to improve smoking cessation
  2. Identifying feasible and effective modes of delivery of pulmonary rehabilitation in low-resource settings
  3. Identifying optimal screening method for COPD in primary care
  4. Identifying feasible strategies to improve access to pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD patients whilst retaining cost-effectiveness
  5. Identifying approached to scale-up of delivery of effective pulmonary rehabilitation in low resource settings to meet the burden of breathlessness
  6. Defining the most affordable, accurate and reliable diagnostic process for respiratory symptoms in low-resource settings based on evidence
  7. Exploring the non-smoking risk factors for the development of COPD (eg, premature birth, childhood asthma, genes, biomass fumes exposure, atmospheric pollution, etc.)
  8. Identifying optimal diagnostic approach for COPD in low-resource settings
  9. Improved understanding of COPD risk factors and their association with COPD incidence and exact effects
  10. Identifying optimal approaches to training physicians, health care workers, policy makers and the community in low resource settings about COPD and its risk factors.

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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