Epilepsy for healthcare providers

Key points about epilepsy

  • This page contains information about epilepsy for healthcare providers.
  • Find information on guidelines, clinical resources and CPD.
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  • In New Zealand, approximately 40 to 50 thousand people are affected by epilepsy, with approximately 2,000 new diagnoses each year. (MOH website, April 2019)
  • The Epilepsy Consumer Experience Survey 2018 found – “Common experiences and issues highlighted by the survey included social challenges, anxiety or depression, physical injury, social isolation and being unable to drive for periods of time.”
  • About one third of the people with epilepsy have a type that is resistant to anti-epilepsy drugs (AEDs).
  • Children and the elderly are more likely to be diagnosed with epilepsy than other age groups.
  • Approximately 60 people die from an epilepsy related cause each year.

Consumer experience survey 2018, Ministry of Health, April 2019(external link) 

Adherence to medicines

  • Good adherence to anti-epileptic medicines is necessary to maximise a patient’s chance of being seizure free. However, poor adherence is reported in up to half of patients with epilepsy.
  • Forgetfulness is a major contributor to patients, or their caregivers, missing doses
  • Encourage patients and caregivers to set a routine for taking medicines and to use reminder techniques such as alarms, smart phone apps, medicine blister packs, pill boxes or a diary so that doses are not forgotten
  • Education is a key part of helping patients and caregivers understand the need for regular dosing of anti-epileptic medicines
  • Simple medicine regimens and 90-day dispensings of medicines can help improve adherence; review a patient’s prescriptions and how often they need to visit a pharmacy to see if changes can be made.

Read more 

Helping patients with epilepsy adhere to their medicines(external link) BPAC, NZ, 2017
Benefits and risks of taking antiepileptic medicine for females – information for healthcare professionals.(external link) Accident Compensation Corporation, NZ

Video: Goodfellow Unit Webinar: The role of the GP in care of children with epilepsy

(Goodfellow Unit Webinar, NZ, 2022)

Video: Goodfellow Unit Webinar: Managing common neurological conundrums

(Goodfellow Unit Webinar, NZ, 2020)

Video: Neurology update, 2 of 6. 60-second neurological exam, and case: multiple sclerosis (36 minutes)

(Pharmac Seminar Series, NZ, 2015)

Neurology update, 4 of 6. Interactive cases: diagnosing seizures, pseudoseizures and epilepsy (51 minutes)

(Pharmac Seminar Series, 2015)

For other videos in the same series, visit neurology update – clinician seminar(external link).

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