EBOLA - Advice for members

Members would be well aware of the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa which has resulted in a major humanitarian crisis.  There is the threat of spread of the disease although at present there are no cases in Australia and the risk of an outbreak in Australia remains low.

In general terms, members are advised to be on alert to the possibility of Ebola in unwell travellers returning from affected areas of West Africa. You should obtain a full travel and exposure history. For any suspected cases, immediately apply appropriate infection control measures and contact public health authorities in your jurisdiction urgently to discuss patient transfer to hospital and the management of contacts.

There are a number of website resources available to members and MIPS provides a summary of the major sites you should reference.

The Australian Government Department of Health contains details for patients, consumers, travellers, clinicians, GPs, Public Health Units, laboratories and an update from the Chief Medical Officer. The information for Clinicians is also highly recommended.

State and Territory Departments of Health 

Departments of Health in your jurisdiction have made available extensive resources. For example, the Department of Health in Victoria provides a Victorian Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan  

The Royal Australian College of General Practice provides ongoing advice and updates to General Practitioners which is relevant to all members. GPs are also encouraged to access and familiarise themselves with the RACGP’s Infection prevention and control standards

Members may also wish to check local State and Territory Health Department websites and organisations such as the AMA

Members with overseas electives or gratuitous work

There is potential for members to seek or already have approval from MIPS for indemnity in relation to overseas electives or gratuitous work in the impacted West African countries. We encourage members to consider any geo-political, conflict or health risks. Members should refer to details on the smart traveller website, which provides travel bulletin updates on the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

Applications for electives and gratuitous work overseas should be referred to Member Services via info@mips.com.au

Further advice may be obtained from any MIPS clinico-legal adviser on 1800 021 223.

Measured reaction

It is important that health practitioners adopt a measured professional approach in reacting to this serious health issue for the community. Any over-reaction may have a damaging impact on your practice and more importantly may inflame currently unfounded concerns of the wider community.

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