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More GPs educated about ME/CFS at GPCE Perth

Emerge Australia presented the keynote address on Sunday 23 July, at the second General Practitioner conference & exhibition for 2022 in Perth. Just as at Sydney’s conference, Emerge Australia’s Medical Director Dr Richard Schloeffel, OAM, presented about diagnosis, management and treatment options for Long COVID and ME/CFS.  

Perth’s conference was smaller than Sydney and the different dynamics of the state provided some interesting insights. We were fortunate to secure a stand, which enabled CEO Anne Wilson and Dr Schloeffel to talk one-on-one with a number of attendees during the two-day conference. While Western Australian GPs did have Long COVID patients, the tsunami had not yet hit like it has in eastern states. Therefore, there was strong interest in ME/CFS and Long COVID topics,and knowing more about what they should be doing to help.  

Close to 100 GPs attended Dr Schloeffel’s keynote, and once again feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Of the 82 respondents who had completed the survey to date, the following reported their learning needs were either partially or entirely met in the following areas:  

  • Evaluate when to consider a diagnosis of ME/CFS in Long COVID patients: 98% 
  • Apply evidence-based principles to diagnose ME/CFS, and avoid misdiagnosis: 99% 
  • Educate patients in helpful management techniques: 98% 

Each attendee comes to these sessions with differing levels of understanding and interest in the topic. Our aim with these conferences is to demystify the disease, present the latest research and provide management options to create a better experience for the patient. Feedback shows Dr Schloeffel’s presentation is meeting these goals:  

  • “Has raised index of suspicion and less likely to dismiss seeming trivial symptoms in short term” 
  • “Increased awareness of complexity of ME/CFS, more understanding and hence more compassionate approach” 
  • “Complex presentation linking ME/CFS with Long Covid. I will need to reread the lecture notes to fully absorb it all but my interest is stimulated!!” 

Other attendees gave more detailed explanations about how they would change their practice after attending the education session: 

  • “Will be more confident in considering potential diagnosis in patient who presents with post infective symptoms. Will now consider some more specific pathology testing in certain cases. Once visual presentation available will attempt to construct testing protocol in suspected cases.” 
  • “I will provide patients with time for ongoing questioning and testing. Provide longer consults where required for patients to tell their long Covid story and symptoms. Request further pathology. Consider the effect of long-term symptoms on patients, their lives, work, mental health, and families” 

These comments suggest greater confidence in knowing how to diagnose and manage ME/CFS, as well as allowing the time and effort to follow up with appropriate testing, and a broader appreciation of impact on patients and families. 

Another important part of these conferences is the awareness it raises about Emerge Australia, and the services we offer to patients and GPs, “Very relevant discussion and excellent tips : Emerge Australia great reference.” We are here to help educate and support healthcare providers and patients alike. If you would like to know more about ThinkGP or other education opportunities please contact us: education@emerge.org.au  

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