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Emergency care for people with epilepsy

Epilepsy affects 1% of the UK population with 40% of people who have epilepsy having two or more seizures a year.

Epilepsy affects 1% of the UK population with 40% of people who have epilepsy having two or more seizures a year. One in five people who have epilepsy visits a hospital emergency department (ED) each year and three out of five do so more than once.

UK-wide evidence shows that often visits to the ED by people who have epilepsy are clinically unnecessary, while care for epilepsy in 2012-2013 cost 56 million in England alone.

The group that conducted this research had previously interviewed 20 adults at London EDs. They all had established epilepsy and were frequent visitors to the ED. They said they had called an ambulance before a seizure because they were afraid of dying.

Treatment required

It was decided that training was needed to support

...

Epilepsy affects 1% of the UK population with 40% of people who have epilepsy having two or more seizures a year. One in five people who have epilepsy visits a hospital emergency department (ED) each year and three out of five do so more than once.


Research confirmed greater training is needed to support people who have epilepsy
Picture: iStock

UK-wide evidence shows that often visits to the ED by people who have epilepsy are clinically unnecessary, while care for epilepsy in 2012-2013 cost £56 million in England alone.

The group that conducted this research had previously interviewed 20 adults at London EDs. They all had established epilepsy and were frequent visitors to the ED. They said they had called an ambulance before a seizure because they were afraid of dying.

Treatment required

It was decided that training was needed to support people who have epilepsy, and a three-hour group-based training course on epilepsy awareness and seizure management by the Epilepsy Society was adapted.

This course was chosen because it includes information on when seizures do and do not require emergency treatment.

After feedback from 23 service users and nine healthcare professionals, the course was revised to optimise its use in limiting unnecessary ED use. Now the training intervention is being piloted in a randomised controlled trial.


Snape DA, Morgan M, Ridsdale L et al (2017) Developing and assessing the acceptability of an epilepsy first aid training intervention for patients who visit UK emergency departments: a multi-method study of patients and professionals. Epilepsy and Behavior. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2017.01.006

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