Mackay grant to review x-ray use

Mackay Base Hospital’s Emergency Department has been awarded a research grant to help guide doctors’ decision making when ordering x-rays.

Staff Specialist Dr Sarah Boxall has received a grant through the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) to research imaging referral guidelines.

The study aims to prevent any unnecessary x-ray examinations and support clinicians when they are making decisions about the need for medical imaging.

The research is supported by Mackay Institute of Research and Innovation (MIRI) and will run over 12 months.

“Clearer guidelines for doctors to refer to will help their decision making if they are considering the need for an x ray,” Dr Boxall said.

“We know sometimes x-rays are ordered that provide little or no benefit to the patient and these are the ones we hope to eliminate.

“This will benefit patients by preventing unnecessary exposure to radiation and will also improve access to patients with a genuine need for this imaging.

“Not only would this reduce the cost of delivering health care, but potentially mean shorter stays in emergency for patients,” she said.

It is the first time Mackay Base Hospital has received an EMF Grant, and Dr Boxall hopes the results will be transferrable to other regional and metropolitan hospitals.

The research aligns with the Choose Wisely Australia Campaign which is helping start important conversations about improving the quality of healthcare by eliminating unnecessary and sometimes harmful tests, treatments and procedures.

Dr Boxall said it was an exciting first for the Mackay Institute of Research and Innovation.

“It will demonstrate that high quality research can be performed in regional areas and not be the sole domain of tertiary centres”.

She hopes that it encourages other small sites to embark on research activities in their own health service.

EMF awards more than $1.2 million annually in emergency medicine research grants to Queensland-led projects. Its Queensland Research Program is funded by Queensland Health.

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