Results for Griffith University


Preventing chronic pain after whiplash injury

After whiplash injury, half of patients never fully recover. The human and economic cost is enormous, and current mainstay treatments are ineffective. Most recovery, if it occurs, takes place in the first two to three months. This early time period offers a ‘window of opportunity’ to pro-actively intervene and prevent the chronic pain. The Emergency Department (ED) is ideally placed to provide very early intervention. We have shown that upregulation of pain in the central nervous system occurs soon after whiplash injury and predicts poor recovery. We aim to target these central nervous system processes with pregabalin in conjunction with evidence based physiotherapy advice/exercise in the ED. The results have potential to fundamentally change the treatment of acute whiplash injury.

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Blind Prescribing and the prescribing preparedness of doctors in Emergency Departments.

“Blind Prescribing” describes the situation where a medical practitioner prescribes a medication they know little about.
Theoretically, ‘blind prescribing’ could lead to higher rates of medication error and unsafe medical practice. The project aims to determine if Blind Prescribing occurs in emergency medicine, to identify the prevalence of the practice, and propose situational and contextual factors pertinent to Emergency medicine that are thought to enable this practice.

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Regulatory systems for occupational exposures in emergency care: Contemporary challenges for the emergency physician in prevention, control and management.

Healthcare workers in emergency departments are at high risk of exposure to blood-borne infections from occupational exposure. The financial and human costs of these injuries are significant. The risks such health care workers face are made more difficult in recent times because of three interconnected reasons. First, emergency care workers are at high risk of occupational exposures because of the nature of their work and the environment they operate in. They work in highly volatile and high-stakes situations. Second, emergency departments face unprecedented demands for emergency medical care. With increased numbers of patients, waiting times for medical treatment inevitably increase, leading to patient dissatisfaction, aggression and violence, larger and heavier workloads, decreased patient and staff satisfaction, and higher staff turnover and burnout. Third, emergency physicians are routinely called upon to manage healthcare workers who have sustained these occupational exposure injuries. The more patients there are, the more at risk emergency physicians and others are at risk of occupational exposures.

These injuries are largely preventable. Emergency physicians have key roles to play with their prevention, but lack a rigorous reporting system and sensitive data management system with a universal regulatory framework to do so. While national guidelines exist to govern the clinical management of such injuries, there is no consistency of regulatory and legislative workplace health and safety frameworks in which emergency physicians are required to operate across the country, making their prevention, control and management by emergency physicians highly problematic. This study will provide a definitive systematic review of the legislative and regulatory workplace health and safety frameworks governing the management, control and prevention of occupational exposures across Australia. Moreover, the study will provide baseline data and pilot research for a larger study that suggests the development of a culture of patient safety within the emergency department and the wider hospital environment first requires a culture of staff safety. For the true financial and human costs of occupational exposures to be known, it is critical to gauge the extent the problem. When we consider the estimated under-reporting in the United States or Australia, where it is estimated that up to 85% of occupational exposures are not reported due to the systematic under-reporting of sharps injuries, the financial and human costs associated with occupational exposures are significant.

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Quality linking of health data to evaluate patient and health service outcomes and key performance indicators following the implementation of patient flow strategies.

In order to understand the effectiveness of health service delivery, and the impact of changes in processes and procedures, it is important to first be capable of analysing the data that documents patients’ journeys through the hospital. This project will bring together key data from multiple disjointed information systems so that analysis can be undertaken on the flow of patients through the Gold Coast Hospital (GCH); from the ambulance, through the Emergency Department, and admission to a ward, including the operating rooms, radiology, pathology, and pharmacy that they encounter up to their departure. With this holistic view of patients’ journey of care, the baseline and measure impact of initiatives will be determined to ensure that patients flow through the environments with minimal delay and improved outcomes.

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Describing health care use in a cohort of children 0-5 years in South East Queensland

Emergency Department (ED) presentations are disproportionately greater in young children than all other age-groups. Young children are a vulnerable population and are at risk for injury and serious medical illness. In Australia, 13 per cent of all ED presentations were from children less than 5 years of age. Factors that lead to greater ED presentation rates in young children are incompletely understood and need further investigation.

This project has access to unique data from another existing study, the Environments for Healthy Living study (EFHL), run by the School of Medicine, Griffith University. EFHL recruited pregnant mothers in the Logan, Tweed and Gold Coast region and collected data since 2006 on more than 3000 children from birth with follow-up at 1, 3 and 5 years. Based on this fundamental initial work, the researchers will develop further research that aims to improve health care access and health care quality for this vulnerable population. This will better inform health care policy and education and reconfiguration of ED models of care that will enable more appropriate and efficient use of the ED to better meet the needs of the populations they serve.

This study aims to describe health care use by children aged 0-5 years living in the Logan, Gold Coast and Tweed regions. It will link the EFHL data with routinely collected data by Queensland and NSW Health (ED, inpatient and cost data) and Medicare Australia data (includes data on GP visits, medications prescribed and vaccination status). The project will focus on describing the health care use of these young children. This will include ED visits, hospital admissions, GP visits and medication use. It will aim to describe any associations between social, demographic, geographic and economic patient characteristics and common ED presentations and diagnoses (such as fever, asthma and injuries).

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IVL-Gone: Assessment of the effect of skin glue on the function of a peripherally inserted intravenous line.

Intravenous lines are placed in the majority of patients admitted to hospital. Unfortunately they often fall out, become infected, cause irritation & pain or become blocked. Occasionally this can cause a life threatening illness. Blood can leak from the intravenous line onto the patient’s skin, clothing or bed linen. This causes patient distress. It can also be dangerous for hospital staff if they accidentally come into contact with the blood.

The insertion of a replacement intravenous line is generally regarded as an unpleasant experience that would be nice to avoid. The IVL-GONE research team are researching the use of common skin glue (think super-glue) to ‘stick-on’ the intravenous line. Other benefits are thought to include keeping the bugs out, improving patient comfort & helping to protect hospital staff from blood. If the skin glue works as well as preliminary studies indicate, this could be a simple solution for a worldwide problem; Queensland research leading the world.

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Effect of IV Fluid Therapy in Patients with Uncomplicated Acute Alcoholic Intoxication presenting to the Emergency Department, a randomised trial.

In the emergency department of Gold Coast Hospital, from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009, 0.7% of total patient population (~1512 patients) were given either a primary or secondary diagnosis of alcohol intoxication or alcohol abuse. Non admitted patients with acute alcohol intoxication or alcohol abuse had an average emergency department length of stay of 8 hours. This prolonged length of stay in the department contributes to additional resource allocation and increased morbidity through emergency department overcrowding.

Current experimental evidence suggests that intravenous (IV) fluids do not increase rate of ethanol clearance from the blood of mildly intoxicated patients. However, there have been no relevant studies that have investigated the effects of intravenous fluids on the emergency department length of stay of moderate to severely alcohol intoxicated patients.

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EASI – Efforts to Attenuate the Spread of Infection: A prospective, multi-centre microbiological survey of Ultrasound Equipment in Australian Emergency Departments and Intensive Care units.

One of the causes of patients getting sick in hospital is the transfer of bacteria from one patient to the other (nosocomial infection). This transfer of bacteria can lead to serious illness, even death. There are numerous precautions taken in hospital to prevent this, such as hand washing, wearing gloves, sterile gowns and gloves during procedures etc. There has been a tremendous growth in the use of point of care ultrasound to assist clinicians in the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit and Anaesthetic Department. We suspect that probes, which are in contact with patients’ skin are not cleaned as often or as thoroughly as they should be. This might lead to bacterial colonization.

Often the ultrasound probes are used to assist with invasive procedures such as the placement of central and peripheral venous catheters. There is a potential for the probes to be contaminated by patients’ blood during these procedures, as well as their skin bacteria. This situation would clearly pose a risk to the well being of our patients and staff, and these procedures are most commonly performed on our sickest, most at risk patients.

We aim to investigate the bacterial colonization and blood contamination on ultrasound probes in the Emergency Departments and Intensive Care Units across numerous hospitals in South East Queensland. The amount of bacteria, the type of bacteria and the amount of blood contamination will be investigated and reported. This study has the potential to demonstrate possible contamination of our sickest patients by blood and pathogenic bacteria from ultrasound probes used by the clinicians who are caring for them. The results should lead to recommendations regarding standardised work practices for the use of this equipment in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department.

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The impact of a new emergency department on patient presentations and ambulance service delivery

This research aimed to investigate the impact of opening a new ED within a health service district. The study involved linking ambulance, emergency department (ED) and hospital data from three EDs to better understand the patient journey and patient and health service outcomes when a new ED opens within the health service. The project aims were to:
1. Describe and compare patient and health service outcomes at three EDs before and 12 months after Robina ED opening;
2. Describe and compare outcomes for patients arriving to ED by ambulance based on whether off stretcher time is/is not delayed by >30 mins.

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Impact of the Emergency Department Patient Admissions Predictive Tool (EDPAPT)

Hospital occupancy rates regularly approach 100%, with resultant access block, ambulance bypass, and the last-minute cancellation of elective surgery patients. More efficient management of inpatient beds to reduce these predicaments is imperative. This project will evaluate the impact of a patient admission forecasting system - the Emergency Department Patient Admissions Predictive Tool (EDPAPT) - that has been developed from analysis of historical admissions data at the Gold Coast Hospital.

The aim of the project will determine whether a model that forecasts patient admissions can assist with the allocation of inpatient beds to alleviate one of the major problems of most Emergency Department (ED)s: overcrowding and access block. Specifically it will determine whether the number of elective surgery cancellations and ambulance bypass occurrences are impacted by using a prediction tool, and what impact there is on ED and bed management work practices. The study will also determine if bed managers will make use of prediction tools or whether there are barriers to their use of it, such as perceived inaccuracies, preferences to rely on own judgements or default to current, familiar modus operandi.

The project was a collaboration with CSIRO’s Australian eHealth Research Centre and Queensland Health, with support from Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology.

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research projects

Improving jellyfish sting treatment

EMF funding is improving emergency care for the elderly

Trauma: better treatment for severe bleeding

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