Patients presenting to the Princess Alexandra Hospital Emergency Department with dermatological conditions present a significant demand on resources. It is estimated that in many Emergency Departments (ED) at least one in 25 patients present with a skin condition. Many dermatological presentations may be better managed in an alternative environment either because they are non-urgent or require more specialised and expert care. This project aims to better understand the presentation of skin conditions to a large adult Queensland ED. The research will describe the current diagnosis and management of this cohort to the ED, assess the resource implications and understand the rationale for the patients attending ED instead of a General Practice clinic. The data will provide the information for determining the need for increased GP support such a expansion of tele-dermatology services or for the creation of a local or district acute dermatology clinic.READ MORE
This study will collect information from the records of 3000 children from 30 hospitals presenting after a head injury in 2016 and will interview staff to look at different factors influencing the care provided. APHIRST-Gap is expected to provided crucial information on scan rates and inform strategies, including national guideline development to standardise and improve the care of children with head injury across Australia and New Zealand.
Head injury is a common reason children present to Emergency Departments in Australia and New Zealand. While most are minor the important issue for emergency clinicians is to determine whether a particular child is at risk of a serious head injury such as a bleed on the brain. A computerised tomography(CT) scan is the investigation of choice to look for these injuries. Its use is not without risks though, including those of sedation, and radiation induced cancer.
Several “rules” have been designed to guide doctors in the decision between risk of injury and risk of scan. The recently published Australasian APHIRST study examined three of these rules in our context. It found that all three rules performed well, clinicians made good judgements on who to scan, and the overall rate of CT scan use was low(10%). APHIRST was limited to 10 large metropolitan, and predominately children specific hospitals. Most children in Australia are not seen in these hospitals. Further research is required to determine whether there is a large variation in scan use between different hospitals and how best to apply these findings to a broader range of hospitals.
This trial is being run by the PREDICT network and the Principal Investigator is A/Prof Franz Babl.READ MORE
Patients with infections are a leading cause of presentations to the Emergency Department (ED), with severe sepsis and infection causing an estimated 20,000 deaths each day across the world. Treatment is aimed at eradicating the infection and supporting the patient while recovery can take place. Frequently patients develop low blood pressure as a result of immune response that can ultimately result in further organ injury (termed septic shock). Intravenous fluids are recommended by international guidelines as the first line therapy in the ED to treat low blood pressure of sepsis with the hope of preventing organ injury and death.
Despite 50 years of use in sepsis, the rationale for fluids remains based in theory rather than clear evidence it is effective in saving lives. Disconcertingly, there is now increasing evidence that fluids in sepsis are ineffective and may actually worsen patient survival. Despite this fluids continue to be recommended and used liberally in the ED resulting in conflict between our historical practice and the best evidence. We have developed an animal model of septic shock and resuscitation in order to test the effectiveness of fluid resuscitation. This will allow us to both understand the true effect but also investigate the underlying physiological mechanisms of any harms.READ MORE
Shortness of breath (dyspnoea) is a terrifying symptom experienced by patients and is a common reason for presentation to Emergency Departments. There are a wide range of causes including flair up due to chronic conditions such as asthma, heart failure, chronic lung disease or liver or kidney failure. Acute conditions such as a collapsed lung, chest infection (including pneumonia), trauma (including fractured ribs), airway blockage or an allergic reaction can also be the cause.
There is significant knowledge about patients who are admitted to hospital with common causes, however there is little conclusive information about Dyspnoea as a symptom, the distribution of causes, the proportion of patients requiring admission and whether treatment complies with evidence-based guidelines.
A recent pilot study in Europe found that 53 per cent of patients had a respiratory cause for symptoms, 22 per cent had a cardiac cause, and 15 per cent had both cardiac and respiratory components. Almost two-thirds were admitted to hospital with over one-third discharged from ED. However, in many ways, the study raised more questions than it answered. The study was also too small to comment on adherence to evidence-based guidelines.
For that reason, a larger EuroDEM (digital elevation model) study is planned for 2014. The study will be complemented by the Australia, Asia and New Zealand Dyspnoea Departments of Emergency Medicine (AANZDEM) which will collect data from a different region with different systems of care. It will focus on the range of causes, variation over seasons and geographical areas, and compliance with recommended treatments.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
The REFRESH study is a multicentre, open-label, randomised, phase II clinical feasibility trial. This is the first randomised trial examining fluid volume for initial resuscitation in septic shock in an industrialised country. A pragmatic, open-label design will establish the feasibility of undertaking a large, international, multicentre trial with sufficient power to assess clinical outcomes. The embedded biomarker study aims to provide mechanistic plausibility for a larger trial by defining the effects of fluid volume on markers of systemic inflammation and the vascular endothelium.
Participants will be patients presenting to the emergency departments of Australian metropolitan hospitals with suspected sepsis and a systolic blood pressure of < 100 mmHg, persisting after a 1000-ml fluid bolus with isotonic crystalloid. Participants will be randomised to either a second 1000-ml fluid bolus (standard care) or maintenance rate fluid only, with the early commencement of a vasopressor infusion to maintain a mean arterial pressure of > 65 mmHg, if required (restricted fluid). All will receive further protocolised fluid boluses (500 ml or 250 ml, respectively), if required during the 6-h study period. The primary outcome measure is total volume administered in the first 6 h. Secondary outcomes include fluid volume at 24 h, organ support 'free days' to day 28, 90-day mortality, and a range of feasibility and process-of-care measures. Participants will also undergo serial measurement, over the first 24 h, of biomarkers of inflammation, endothelial cell activation and glycocalyx degradation for comparison between the groups.READ MORE
A peripherally inserted intravenous catheter (PIVC) is a small tube placed into a vein to administer medication or fluids. PIVCs are commonly used in Emergency Departments but recent literature suggests that emergency care providers may place PIVCs more often than required; up to 50% remain unused. This places the patient at unnecessary risk of catheter-related infections and is associated with a high financial cost to the healthcare system.
We will conduct a historically controlled trial where observational data will be collected before and after an intervention aimed to reduce PIVC use. Data collected before the intervention will identify 1) how many PIVCs are placed in the Emergency Department and 2) how many PIVCs are used for fluid, medications, contrast or blood products within 24 hours. Data collected after the intervention will identify whether there has been 1) a reduction in the number of PIVC placed in the Emergency Department and 2) a reduction in unused PIVCs.
The proposed intervention will empower emergency physicians, their trainees and the emergency nursing staff to make an informed, evidence-based decision not to insert a PIVC unless clinically indicated. The impact of such practice change will reach far beyond the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital as its findings will have the potential to influence practice change in all Queensland Health Emergency Departments. Reducing the rate of unused PIVC in the Emergency Department will reduce the risk of catheter related infections and reduce healthcare costs.READ MORE
Shortness of breath is one of the most common reasons for presentation to Australian Emergency Departments, with millions of presentations each year. A new patient, unable to speak properly because they cannot breathe present difficulties in immediate diagnosis and therefore treatment, to emergency doctors and nurses. Immediate management involves the application of oxygen via a face-mask in addition to drug therapy and investigations including x-rays and blood tests. If breathlessness gets worse, the patient may need invasive support for breathing; a process that involves more staff, expensive machines, and resultant considerable cost to the health care system. A simpler support device that provides non-invasive humidified high flow nasal cannula is one alternative to the provision of oxygen and is currently utilised safely in adult and paediatric patients. The “high flow” delivery of humidified oxygen and air provides moderate support, which reduces the work that the exhausted patient does while breathing in and to help splint the airways open. This support is a driving pressure, which is not present during simple mask oxygen therapy. If we treat patients early with high flow therapy rather than standard facemask, we may be able to relieve symptoms of breathlessness sooner and avoid worsening of breathing difficulties. Similar work has been completed on paediatric patients with positive results and we hope to mimic this in the adult population. If possible this would reduce health care costs and allow for earlier discharge from the emergency department and/or hospital by providing this early intervention of breathing support.READ MORE
Patient demand on Emergency Departments (EDs) is rising by over 3% per annum contributing to congestion. ED congestion is known to be associated with poor health outcomes and reduced efficiency; the latter is characterised by increased waiting time, length of stay and ambulance diversion. Even though the National Emergency Access Target (the four-hour rule) has reduced the level of access block, initiatives to reduce ED demands have not had significant effect to date.
Previous research undertaken by the emergency health research group at QUT has described in detail the increases in demand and has identified some contributing factors. Our research highlighted reduced access to primary healthcare is one important factor associated with increased ED demand.
The aim of this project is built on our earlier work investigating factors that influence the choice made by patients between ED and primary healthcare for acute illness, and to thus identify viable primary healthcare alternatives for diverting ED patients so as to reduce ED demand. This project will provide the necessary evidence base to subsequently develop a NHMRC grant application to trial a national model of expanded primary healthcare practice to reduce ED demand. Importantly, this project will facilitate better integration and knowledge exchange between existing primary and secondary health sectors in Queensland through the stakeholder involvement.READ MORE