Dyspnoea (undifferentiated breathlessness)

Availability

North South North West Statewide

Pre-referral work-up

History

All referrals should comply with the Referral Standards and specifically include:

  • Smoking status
  • Co morbidities and past history
  • Current and past medications
  • General medical history including risk factors for coronary disease, thromboembolic disease
  • Description of the provoking and relieving factors and accompanying symptoms

Tests

Pulse oximetry may be useful, hypoxaemia in a patient with dyspnoea indicates significant disease.

Initial helpful tests include:

  • ECG
  • FBE, UEC,  LFT
  • CXR
  • Office based spirometry if possible

Interim/GP management

To refer a patient with this condition, please see the Respiratory and Sleep Medicine clinic page for the full referral process and templates.

To refer a patient with this condition, please see the Respiratory and Sleep Medicine clinic page for the full referral process and templates.

  • Initial/interim management will depend on the suspected underlying pathology
  • A trial of inhaled therapy would be appropriate if asthma or COPD is confirmed on lung function testing
  • Smoking Cessation program
  • See Health Pathways Dyspnoea page

For more information please see the Tasmanian Health Pathways website.

Emergency

Severe dyspnoea and hypoxemia with associated symptoms e.g. confusion

Urgent / category 1

Uncertain diagnosis with severe symptoms

Red flags are clinical indicators of possible serious underlying conditions requiring further medical intervention. They may or may not indicate an emergency.

Quit advice http://www.quit.org.au/

Emergency:

Proceed to Emergency Department (ED).
LGH ED Reception  – Phone: (03) 6777 6405  Fax: (03) 6777 5201
MCH ED* – Phone: (03) 6478 5120  Fax: (03) 6441 5923
NWRH ED* – Phone: (03) 6493 6351 Fax: (03) 6464 1926
RHH ED Reception – Phone: (03) 6166 6100  Fax: (03) 6173 0489

Advice for medical practitioners can be given by the Medical Officer In Charge (MOIC) - see HealthPathways Tasmania for contact information.
*MCH and NWRH MOICs request GPs call them prior to referring a patient to ensure the patient is being sent appropriately to a safe destination.

Urgent:

We will endeavour to see these patients within four weeks.

Patients with suspected lung cancer will be seen within one week.

Urgent referrals should be accompanied by a phone call to the Respiratory Department and/or the relevant doctor for urgent assessment and referral faxed to the Respiratory Department as well (03) 6173 0462.

Semi-urgent:

We will endeavour to see these patients within 12 weeks.

Routine:

Next available appointment.