Newsletter January 2019 – Chickenpox

Newsletter January 2019 – Chickenpox

Posted on Jan 31, 2019

Just before we closed for Christmas we saw lots of young children with Chickenpox. We’ve put together some key information to keep you informed.

Chickenpox, also known as Varicella is a highly contagious viral infection. It causes well defined small red spots which blister and can be both incredibly itchy and uncomfortable.

People are usually infectious for 2 days before the red spots appear until about 5 days after the spots have dried up and scabbed. It is spread through direct contact with fluid from the blister but the virus can also be spread in the air through coughing and sneezing.

Chickenpox in some cases can cause severe illness. While rare, the following can happen:

  • Swelling of the brain membranes
  • Decrease in blood platelet cell
  • Bleeding problems
  • Infection of the blood (sepsis)
  • Inflammation or infection of the brain
  • Trouble with balance and co-ordination
  • Foetal abnormalities in pregnant women

A lot of our younger children will have only ever had one Chickenpox vaccine as this is what is funded under the National Immunisation Program.

Two doses of Chickenpox vaccine are required to for optimal protection.

If you are unsure, blood tests can be done to check your immunity. For some people, vaccine induced protection (having had 2 Chickenpox vaccines at least 4 week apart) will not always show up in a blood test (the test is not that sensitive!) although it is expected that you would have adequate protection.


Dr Tamsin is trialing the use of a new program called ‘Better Consults’. She explains this in detail below, an interesting read which gives you an insight into the record taking that goes on in general practices and how we are trying to improve this.

Better Consult is designed by the Healthshare group. I became aware of them at a tech conference in Sydney last year. They shone in an otherwise depressing day where the Telstra CTO spoke glowingly of fax machines and their continued place in Australian medical communication. I am glad my cowardice prevented me from getting up and leaving the conference in the first ten minutes.

Currently when new patients enrol at Turn the Corner Medical Clinic they are asked if they wish to participate in a questionnaire designed to enhance their first visit.

Following their assent is a cascade of increasingly focussed questions, which then is presented to the Doctor 24 hours prior to the first visit, in the patient file. The information provided is presented in a structured form, including past medical history, social history, allergies, medications, as well as the all important reason for seeing the Doctor in the first place.

Advantages are numerous; sometimes, when attending a new Doctor, the real reason for attending is hidden until late in the consult, perhaps through shame or fear, or just nerves. The questionnaire provides an easy way to ensure the most important issue is not buried until it is too late to be properly explored.

Doctors have varied note taking skills, some are fast typists, and easily note take whilst listening. Others find this impossible, leaving all the note taking until the end of the consult. The latter often means the doctor runs late, or spends hours at the end of their consulting day to complete note taking.

Better Consult enables the patient’s own words to be recorded. This has important medicolegal benefits for both patient and clinician. Due to the continual improvement of the Better Consult algorithm, concerning symptoms can be revealed and clarified, rather than unintentionally obscured from within a consult where time may not be on anyone’s side.

Better Consult will ensure our patients feel truly heard, and it will enable us clinicians to operate at the top of our licence, instead of wallowing in documentation.