Results for The Townsville Hospital


Rapid diagnosis of sepsis in acutely ill children

Life threatening bacterial infections such as sepsis are a leading cause of childhood mortality. International authorities recognise the urgent need for better recognition, diagnosis, and management of children with sepsis. Children in regional and remote settings are at particular risk for late or inaccurate diagnosis resulting in worse outcomes.

In this study, we are testing the feasibility, performance, time-to-diagnosis, and cost impact of applying the most advanced genomics-based sepsis diagnostic tools. This could lead to better treatment of infections, reduce unnecessary antibiotic use, shorten hospital length of stay, improve patient outcomes, and allow patients and families to be managed closer to home, with the aim to provide the same care for all children around the state. We are recruiting acutely ill children presenting with suspected sepsis to Emergency Departments, including regional and remote centres in Queensland.

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Fibrinogen Early In Severe Trauma in children studY (FEISTY Junior)

Traumatic injuries in children are a leading cause of death and disability in Australia. In high income countries, 40% of child deaths are because of traumatic injuries. Fibrinogen is one of the key clotting factors that need to be replaced in severe traumatic bleeding.

Currently, fibrinogen is replaced using cryoprecipitate; a blood product obtained from healthy volunteer donors. This is a precious resource that is stored frozen in the blood bank; it can take a long time to administer and place significant strain on blood banks. Fibrinogen concentrate (FC) is an alternative product used to assist in blood clotting. It is a product that is derived from blood plasma but stored in powder form and can be reconstituted at the bedside and given quickly. The study will investigate whether it is quicker to administer FC than cryoprecipitate, which may reduce haemorrhage and improve outcomes.

This study will enrol 30 children from three major paediatric trauma centres in Queensland admitted with severe traumatic bleeding. Time to administration of fibrinogen replacement and the effect of fibrinogen levels will be measured.

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How are we treating severe childhood asthma in Australasia?

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.

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Is prednisolone an effective treatment for Bell’s Palsy in children?

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.

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Kids THRIVE

Children may present to an emergency department with life threatening conditions that require immediate treatment to support their breathing to allow enough oxygen to be supplied to the body. In these circumstances a child is given medication to put them to sleep and the airway is secured with the insertion of a tube into the windpipe. This transition from spontaneous breathing awake to controlled respiration under anaesthetic via a breathing tube is called intubation and is associated with a high risk for low oxygen levels in the body or low blood pressure.

Newer methods to avoid these risks are currently the subject of many trials. In our study we investigate a new approach to prevent a drop in oxygen levels during intubation using high flow oxygen delivery. We have tested this method in children with healthy lungs undergoing anaesthesia for elective surgery and we found that we can maintain oxygen levels more than twice as long as using standard intubation methods. These findings would allow the operator in emergency settings more time and a safer condition to secure the airway in a sick child.

Therefore, we aim to compare this new oxygenation method with the current standard practice to intubate a child in an emergency situation. We aim to demonstrate that the new method will reduce the risk for low oxygen levels in the blood and also prevents low blood pressure associated with intubation.

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FEISTY – Fibrinogen Early In Severe Trauma study

This clinical trial aims to improve the quality of the resuscitation of patients with traumatic haemorrhage. We are enrolling 100 patients from four major trauma centres in Queensland. Patients admitted with severe traumatic bleeding will be given either Fibrinogen concentrate or cryoprecipitate. Time to administration of these products and effects on blood fibrinogen levels will be measured. We are using innovative technology to identify hypofibrinogenaemia; we will provide data to define the optimal method of replacement and monitoring of the end points of resuscitation; and provide data on the role of fibrinogen concentrate and its use in traumatic haemorrhage. We are also exposing a broad range of ED physicians to potential practice changing research that may be translated to use in other patient groups with critical bleeding.

More than 7000 Australians are treated for severe trauma every year. Major bleeding in the setting of trauma is associated with poor outcomes and increased rates of death. Severe trauma causes a decrease in the factors within the blood that helps clots to form and stop bleeding. This loss of clotting factors is associated with worse outcomes and it is proposed that early replacement of these factors may reduce bleeding and improve outcomes. Fibrinogen is one of the key clotting factors that needs to be replaced in severe traumatic bleeding. Currently fibrinogen is replaced using cryoprecipitate; a blood product obtained from healthy volunteer donors. This is a precious resource that is stored frozen in the blood bank; it can take a long time to administer and place significant strain on blood banks. Fibrinogen concentrate (FC) is an alternative product used to assist in blood clotting. It is stored in powder form, can be reconstituted at the bedside and given quickly. The study will investigate whether it is quicker to administer FC than cryoprecipitate, which will reduce haemorrhage and improve outcomes. With positive impact for both large urban metropolitan areas and remote isolated communities.

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Comparison of the Implementation of Interventions for Controlling Laboratory Blood Tests Ordering in Four Queensland Teaching Hospital Emergency Departments.

Doctors frequently need to order blood tests in the Emergency Department when patients come to hospital with a medical or surgical emergency. In all but the most trivial cases, laboratory blood tests are requested as part of the diagnostic workup. Doctors and even the patient are often concerned about missing a diagnosis if enough blood tests are not done. However, medical research worldwide has revealed that test ordering is excessive and often unnecessary.

The growth in test ordering places an enormous financial strain on our health care system, and includes unnecessary investigations or treatment. Thus, reducing the number of unnecessary tests is important for patients to avoid undue discomfort and worry, and for the hospital to improve work efficiency and reduce costs.

Health care professionals have, therefore, worked out various ways to ensure tests are ordered only when needed. These have included education of junior medical staff, protocols for ordering tests, audits of tests ordered, and feedback of audits to staff. These methods have been successful in reducing test ordering in the short-term, but sustaining a long-term reduction is more difficult.

Queensland Hospital Emergency Departments have implemented methods to reduce excessive test ordering, but it is not known which method is most effective. The aim of this study is to determine maximum efficacy, by comparing the number of tests ordered in four of the busiest Emergency Departments in the state. Specifically we will compare the average number of blood tests ordered per patient treated in the Emergency Department taking into account their age, severity of their illness, and whether or not they were admitted to hospital.

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Examining Sepsis in the Emergency Department

Infections, particularly serious infections leading to sepsis, cost the Australian healthcare system millions of dollars every year and impose a significant burden of illness on the Australian community. Serious infections also have the capacity to cause tragedy at a much more personal level, with lethal outcomes possible even in young healthy individuals. Despite the significant consequences of these illnesses, we have very limited information about the best way to identify and treat infection in Emergency Departments. Therefore, research that provides more information is vital.

We are conducting a ground breaking body of research to improve our understanding of infection in Australian Emergency Departments. We will conduct a group of studies focusing on early identification and treatment of infection. Specifically, four studies will be conducted across two hospitals. The first will identify the types of historical and clinical information available to doctors during the early stages of assessment that predicts whether an individual is likely to become very ill with infection. Identifying these patients at risk of progression to severe illness can be difficult, and is important because certain potentially life-saving treatments are most effective when given early. The second study will identify the types of bacteria that cause infection in our community. The third study will examine the potential beneficial effect of a commonly prescribed class of cholesterol-lowering drugs (“statins”) on patients admitted with infection. Finally, in the fourth study we will develop an antibiotic order set that covers the major bacteria causing severe infections. This will enable earlier effective treatment of seriously ill patients. These studies are the first of their kind conducted in Australia and will ultimately enable doctors to identify and treat severe infection earlier.

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Australia, Asia and New Zealand Dyspnoea in Emergency Departments Study

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.

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A Prospective Observational Cohort Study of Paediatric Status Epilepticus in Emergency Departments of Australia and New Zealand. The Status Epilepticus Australasian Registry for Children (SEARCh).

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.

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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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