Research boost for mental health

A major EMF-funded study has been launched to assess the impact of increasing numbers of mental health-related presentations on Queensland hospital emergency departments.

The Director of Emergency Medicine at the Cairns Hospital, Dr Richard Stone is leading the two-year research project, funded through a $93,000 EMF Leading Edge grant. The study was designed by Epidemiologist Professor Alan Clough from James Cook University in collaboration with Dr Stone and with the support of Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN).

Dr Stone said the study will examine whether more patients have been taken to emergency departments (EDs) since a legislative amendment to the Public Health Act 2005 became effective in March 2017 requiring police and ambulance officers to complete an Emergency Examination Authority (EEA) for patients they believe need assessment.

“EEAs are used in the management of persons suffering major disturbances in their mental capacities, who are detained and transported to emergency departments by police or ambulance officers for assessment and treatment,” Dr Stone said.

“From handover at the emergency department, the Public Health Act prescribes specific responsibilities of hospital staff, including detention of the patient to allow time for assessment. Previously, Emergency Examination Orders (EEOs) were completed under Queensland’s Mental Health Act 2000.” (now repealed).”

The study will examine the specific impacts of EEAs on hospitals in four North Queensland Hospital and Health Services, across two Primary Health Networks. It will assess impacts on ED resources and the scope to improve both patient and staff experiences.
The research team, led by Dr Stone and Professor Clough, includes investigators from Cairns, Mount Isa, Townsville and Mackay hospitals, the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Ambulance Service and Neami National, a community mental health service.

Professor Clough said the study also provides an important opportunity to examine the issues surrounding EEAs and EEOs from a police and ambulance perspective and to build a partnership with the two PHNs in northern and western Queensland for more effective pre-hospital interventions and post-discharge care for persons who experience mental ill health in our community.

“We know that when those key professionals work together across acute care and primary health, excellent results can be achieved for patients, with more people getting the timely and appropriate support they need with fewer people being hospitalised unnecessarily.”

EMF’s Queensland Research Program is primarily funded by Queensland Health.

Pictured about: Dr Richard Stone, photo courtesy Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service

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Posted: 4 September 2019


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