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Published: 31 March, 2022


New article – Diverticulitis: pockets of knowledge

Diverticulitis occurs when small pockets in the wall of the large bowel become inflamed, usually without a specific identifiable cause. Conventionally, diverticulitis is treated with antibiotics based on the assumption of a bacterial aetiology. However, there has been a global shift to less intensive management based on evidence that inflammation has a more significant role than previously thought. This means that many patients can be treated in the community with analgesia and selective use of oral antibiotics.

Read the full article here.

Got no time for that or just need your answers now? Click for B-QuiCK.

Clinical audit – Identifying patients who are not participating in regular cervical screening

A new clinical audit has been published on identifying patients who are not participating in regular cervical screening. The purpose of this audit is to initiate conversations about cervical screening with patients who are not regularly participating in the programme, to identify their reason(s) why and then, if possible, to try to resolve these issues.

Ultimately the decision to participate in cervical screening is made by the patient, therefore it is difficult to audit practice in the usual way; hence this audit slightly differs from traditional ones. You will not need to search for and access the patient’s clinical notes to complete this audit. Instead, it can be completed over time opportunistically during consultations for other reasons with eligible patients until the required number of patients has been reached.

For further information on cervical screening and cervical cancer, see:

South Link Education Trust announced as new sponsor of GPCME conferences

The following message was provided by Conference Matters and South Link Education Trust

We are delighted to announce that South Link Education Trust will be sponsoring the upcoming Rotorua and South General Practice Conference and Medical Exhibition (GPCME) events.

As a not-for-profit organisation, South Link Education Trust is committed to supporting the ongoing professional development of healthcare professionals in New Zealand. We are proud to partner with GPCME to bring these important events to our community. Through this sponsorship, South Link Education Trust will be subsidising the registration fees for healthcare professionals, making it easier for them to attend and benefit from the valuable educational and networking opportunities that GPCME provides.

We would like to extend a special invitation to you to attend the Rotorua and South GPCME events. This is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable knowledge, skills and network with your peers. The event will feature a diverse range of speakers, workshops, and presentations, with topics ranging from clinical updates to practice management. We hope that you will join us for what promises to be two inspiring and informative events.

Details of the programmes are available at:

N.B. South Link Education Trust is the sole shareholder of bpacnz.

Syphilis case numbers increasing in New Zealand

Following a reported increase in syphilis cases in New Zealand, Manatū Hauora, Ministry of Health and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) are raising awareness of this risk and recommending that people use prevention measures, particularly those who are pregnant and their partners. Data released by ESR, but not yet published, show a 41% increase in syphilis cases between the first (91 cases) and last quarter (140 cases) of 2022.

Candida auris identified in New Zealand

Candida auris infection has been the subject of recent media attention due to the spread of antimicrobial resistant strains. Manatū Hauora, Ministry of Health has confirmed one case of C. auris has been identified in New Zealand (infection occurred overseas).

New legislation about medicines that can impair driving

Medsafe has issued an Alert Communication following the introduction of new legislation* about medicines that can impair driving, as part of the prevention of drug driving. Aspects of this legislation that could impact patients include:

Monitoring Communication update: abnormal uterine bleeding and anticoagulants

In August 2022, Medsafe asked prescribers to report any cases of abnormal uterine bleeding with oral anticoagulants: this was covered in Bulletin 58. The reporting period has now ended and the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) has received four reports of patients with abnormal uterine bleeding associated with rivaroxaban (between August 2022 and February 2023). There were no reports received for other oral anticoagulants. Bleeding and/or urogenital haemorrhage is listed as an adverse effect in oral anticoagulant data sheets. On balance, Medsafe advises that the benefit/risk for oral anticoagulants remains positive.

Prescribers should discuss this potential adverse effect with female patients prescribed anticoagulants, particularly rivaroxaban.

Reminder: Influenza season starts 1 April

The 2023 Influenza Immunisation Programme officially starts tomorrow (1 April). As reported in Bulletin 69, access to influenza vaccination has been widened this year to include children aged six months to 12 years, and Māori and Pacific peoples aged 55 – 64 years. Funded access remains for people aged > 65 years or with chronic health conditions. Full eligibility criteria can be found here.

NZF Patient Information Leaflets upgrade

Patient Information Leaflets in the New Zealand Formulary are being upgraded. The first change, an addition of a “Before you start” section, was made live on 17 March, 2023. Other changes will be made over time, including extended leaflets with some disease-specific information, the frequencies of adverse effects with pictorials and risk/benefit discussions.

Paper of the Week: The push to limit social media use

For many people, particularly young people, time spent using social media occupies a significant proportion of each day, and concerns are growing about the impact that this has on mental health. Many studies have linked frequent social media use with harm, including body image issues and eating disorders, but whether reducing the time spent on social media decreases these associated harms is largely unknown.

A 2023 study published in Psychology of Popular Media, a journal of the American Psychological Association, has examined the effects that reducing smartphone social media use has on mental health-related outcomes (appearance esteem and weight esteem) in younger people with emotional distress. A significant improvement in appearance esteem and weight esteem was found in participants who reduced social media use to one hour per day, compared to those with unrestricted access. Suggesting a reduction or limitation in social media use may, therefore, be an effective strategy when managing a patient with mental health concerns, particularly when body image is a factor.

This Bulletin is supported by the South Link Education Trust

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