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
Most children with asthma presenting to an emergency department (ED) are managed with inhaled medications and oral steroids. Infrequently, some children are very unwell, and require assistance with their breathing, or intravenous medication Currently, there is minimal information to guide clinicians on which treatment to choose for severe acute asthma. All have side-effects, and we do not know which is most effective. Studies from the UK and Australasia demonstrate significant variation in practice, although Australasian data is nearly 10 years out of date. When comparing treatments, it is important to determine whether or not they can reduce the risk of severe complications, or whether they make a difference in important treatment outcomes.
This project will allow us to determine current management practices for children with severe acute asthma and/or wheeze; how common severe acute asthma is and also how frequently complications of severe asthma occur; and understand where differences in therapy exist between states/regions. We will be looking at sites across Australia and New Zealand. Once complete, this project will provide important data to allow us to design future research to establish the best treatments for severe asthma.
EMF is funding the Queensland sites taking part in this Australasian trial. This study is being run by the PREDICT network. The Chief Investigatory is A/Prof Simon Craig. The study will include 18,000 children aged 1 – 18 years treated for asthma in the ED.READ MORE
Bell’s palsy or acute idiopathic lower motor neurone facial paralysis is characterised by sudden onset paralysis or weakness of the muscles to one side of the face controlled by the facial nerve. It is the third most common neurological reason for children to present acutely to hospital.
In adults, there is conclusive evidence from two major recent trials that a short course of prednisolone, a cheap, widely available and safe steroid, can significantly increase the number of Bell’s palsy patients who completely recover. While the medical problems associated with Bell’s palsy are similar, in children there is no good evidence that prednisolone is an effective treatment.
Many neurological conditions progress differently in children and treatment methods sometimes vary. Children may react differently to prednisolone and without paediatric evidence; treatment guidelines for children with Bell’s palsy remain absent or vague, with variable and overall low rates of steroid use in children by physicians.
The lack of evidence and clinical uncertainty in the treatment of Bell’s palsy in children warrants a definitive trial to determine the efficacy of prednisolone as a treatment for this condition in children. The aim of this study is to assess the utility of steroids in Bell’s palsy in children in a large multicentre randomised, placebo-controlled, trial. The trial will take place in at least 10 hospitals within Australia and New Zealand, involving more than 500 children.READ MORE
Convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) occurs when seizures do not stop spontaneously. It is the most severe form of epilepsy, and can result in long-term disabilities and rarely death. It can affect both adults and children, although the causes and outcomes are different in these groups of patients. Treatments of patients with CSE are largely based on expert opinion rather than strong evidence, due to the difficult nature of conducting quality trials in patients with this relatively infrequent condition in the emergency setting. We will determine the incidence and causes of CSE in children in Australia and New Zealand and collect information on the type of seizure, duration, treatment and outcome to determine ways to improve the management of children with CSE.READ MORE
Convulsive Status Epilepticus (CSE) is the most common childhood neurological emergency, sometimes resulting in death or serious disability. CSE is managed with anticonvulsant medications in a step-wise approach until seizures stop. While some management strategies for CSE are well supported by evidence (e.g. initial administration of benzodiazepines), subsequent strategies are based on expert consensus and not evidence.
Phenytoin, the traditional second line agent for CSE has a high failure rate, causes adverse events and must be administered slowly. Levetiracetam, a newer anticonvulsant, has a favourable adverse events profile, can be administered quickly and has good efficacy for various seizure types.
This research project proposes to undertake a randomised controlled trial of the second line anticonvulsants phenytoin and levetiracetam for CSE in children. This multi-centre study will be a world first and have a profound impact on the management of CSE in children in New Zealand, Australia and worldwide, in either confirming the current second line medication used or recommending a newer second line medication.READ MORE
Patients experiencing pain and swelling in their limbs following an accident will often have X-Rays in the Emergency Department. The doctor will look at these X-rays for signs of a fracture and then treat the patient accordingly. The X-Ray specialist elsewhere in the hospital will also look at these X-Rays and write a report. However, this report may not be available until after the patient and doctor have both gone home. If the X-Ray specialist’s report identifies a fracture, other staff working in the Emergency Department will need to go back and double-check the patient’s records to make sure the fracture was picked up by the treating doctor and that the patient was appropriately treated.
The procedure for checking X-Ray reports and checking that the patient was appropriately treated is laborious and time consuming. Moreover, due to resourcing problems, it is often done days after the patient’s initial presentation to the Emergency Department. A more timely and efficient process is required.