Raising awareness of liver disease

19/Aug/2021     Health

Mater has a robust hepatology service which treats patients impacted by a range of different concerns including fatty liver disease, viral hepatitis, autoimmune liver disease, alcoholic liver disease and liver cancer.

Patients are referred for endoscopic, radiological and surgical interventions to effectively mange their care. 

Hepatology Nurse Practitioner Burglind Liddle said that liver diseases are on the rise in Australia with liver cancer the fastest growing cause of cancer related deaths in Australia.

“10 per cent of the Australian population is estimated to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with the prevalence set to increase 25 per cent in the next 10 years,” she said.

“I think it’s important the public understands that liver diseases like chronic Hepatitis B, non-acholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic liver disease can be managed and treated while Hepatitis C can be cured with our newer medications.

“Our main goal is to reduce the risk of developing liver cancer and liver failure by engaging with our patients to make healthy lifestyle choices including maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing alcohol intake and safe injecting practices in addition to medical management were indicated.”

Burglind said many patients of the hepatology clinic coming to receive care can feel shame and anxiety as they feel they are responsible for the development of their condition.

“We need our patients to understand there is no shame or blame in our clinic and we are here to treat them and support them to improve their overall health and wellbeing,” she said.

“Liver disease is a silent disease displaying minimal symptoms until the disease is well advanced with late presentations. These diseases are not spoken of in the community and often stigmatised.  

“Many of our patients are already from marginalised communities who experience significant social disadvantages when it comes to health care having poor relationships with health providers, diminished health literacy and have minimal skills in negotiating health services.”

To bridge these gaps Burglind and her team have been working with health care providers in the community on an integrated care model with a focus on clinical upskilling and education.

“We are establishing an “Echo Model of Learning” with our GP partnerships in Hepreach (Hepatology outreach) with the aim is that our patients who can be cared for in a safe and familiar environment with their GP or preferred healthcare provider, and advanced cases can be easily escalated to us in the hospital,” she said.

To find out more about Mater’s Hepatology Services please visit https://www.mater.org.au/health/services/gastroenterology-and-hepatology, or make a referral please visit, https://www.materonline.org.au/specialist/gastroenterology

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