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8

M E D I C U S

J U N E 2 0 1 7

National Cervical Screening

Program: interim arrangements

RESEARCHERS FIND

QUICKER WAY TO

DIAGNOSE ANTIBIOTIC-

RESISTANT INFECTIONS

RESEARCHERS

FROM THE

Harry

Perkins Institute of

Medical Research,

in collaboration

with researchers

from the University

of Western

Australia, PathWest

and a group of

international

colleagues, have

pioneered a faster

method for finding

the best antibiotic to treat an infection – a breakthrough with

the potential to save lives.

The researchers from the Perkins Translational Renal

Research laboratory developed a way of determining

antibiotic susceptibility for a patient’s individual strain of

bacteria in a matter of hours instead of the usual 2-6 days.

Patients with serious infections cannot wait that long for

treatment, so doctors must prescribe broad-spectrum

antibiotics while they wait for lab results. This can reduce

the good bacteria in our guts and on our skin, and increases

the risk of antibiotic resistance – leading to the rise of

‘superbugs’.

Perkins researcher Kieran Mulroney said it’s important that

doctors can identify the appropriate treatment to prescribe

as soon as possible.

“For patients with serious infections, every hour without

appropriate antimicrobial treatment can mean as much as a

10 per cent increase in risk of mortality. If we can treat them

with appropriate antibiotics 21 hours faster, the chance of

that patient surviving is much higher,” Mr Mulroney said.

The new method involves taking a small number of bacteria

and exposing them to antibiotics for a short window of

time. A flow cytometer is then used to examine individual

bacterial cells and determine the damage the drug is doing.

The World Health Organization recently declared antibiotic

resistance a serious threat to global public health. Most

recent estimates suggest that, if we do not take action, as

many as 250 million people may die by 2050 as a direct

result of drug-resistant bacterial infections.

THE RENEWAL OF

the National Cervical Screening

Program will commence on 1 December 2017, a delay of

seven months from the initial date of 1 May 2017.

Until the renewed National Cervical Screening Program

is implemented, Australia’s world-class cervical cancer

screening program will continue. It is important that

women aged between 18-69 years continue to have

Pap smears every two years and attend follow-up

appointments when due.

The following interim arrangements have been made:

From 1 May - 30 November 2017:

The Liquid Based

Cytology (LBC) test, for which previously women were

billed privately, has been added to the Medicare Benefits

Schedule (MBS). For each patient, a Medicare rebate

will only be payable for one cervical screening test for

cytology, either the LBC test or the conventional cytology

test. If you choose to do both tests, doctors need to inform

patients that they will incur an out-of-pocket cost.

The LBC test will be set at a Medicare fee of $36 per test

and will exist alongside the rebate for the conventional

cytology test.

Until 1 December 2017, turnaround times for cervical

screening test results may be longer than usual; however

this is still clinically safe for women.

It is important to inform patients that the LBC test is as

effective as the conventional cytology test.

Please liaise with your pathology provider about the

scope of cervical screening technologies they offer and

for advice about preparing conventional slides or LBC

samples.

From 1 December 2017:

The Medicare items for cervical

screening will change on 1 December 2017 when

the renewed National Cervical Screening Program is

implemented. More information and resources about these

changes will be available closer to the time.

N E W S

8

M E D I C U S

J U N E 2 0 1 7

If you have any questions in relation to the interim

arrangements or the renewal of the National Cervical

Screening Program please email

cervicalrenewal@health.gov.au

or visit

www.cancerscreening.gov.au/cervical

A particularly helpful resource for GPs and other

healthcare professionals is the page,

Frequently

Asked Questions

(http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/

publishing.nsf/content/frequently-asked-questions-2)

Breakthrough:

Kieran Mulroney, lead

author of the research paper detailing

the discovery.