Results for The University of Queensland


International mass gathering impact on Gold Coast Hospitals’ emergency departments

The objective of this study is to describe the impact of the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Queensland, Australia on the emergency departments in the Gold Coast region. This research has two key aims, which align with two discrete but related studies:

Study 1 Aim: To describe and determine whether changes in patient, health service, and economic outcomes occur before, during and after the Commonwealth Games.
Study 2 Aim: To explore healthcare staff experience of planning, preparedness and lessons learnt from the Commonwealth Games.

Findings from this study will provide an evidence base regarding the impact of a large sporting mass gathering on public and private emergency departments, forming an invaluable resource for future Commonwealth Games planners, as well as response planning for other mass gatherings, sporting or otherwise.

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Data Extraction from Electronic Health Records for a Chest Pain Clinical Data Registry: The Chest Pain DECoDeR Study

Patient health records contain a significant amount of information through each episode of care provided at a healthcare facility. However, due to the unstructured nature of the clinical information in each record, the clinical data is not readily accessible for research or administrative use unless an expensive and time-consuming manual process is used. Methods of data extraction through various algorithms are available but require training and testing a dataset of annotated health records.

To address this issue, my key aim is to generate structured clinical data from previously inaccessible and unstructured electronic records. I am attempting to develop a process of automatically extracting clinical data from electronic records of patients who present with chest pain to emergency departments in Queensland. The clinical data extracted will be composed of the documented cardiac risk stratification for each patient and major adverse cardiac events.

To develop this data extraction process, an annotation scheme was designed using a widely accepted standardized reporting guideline. Using the annotation scheme, emergency clinicians annotate patient records to produce an annotated dataset for both training and testing machine learning algorithms.

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Dermatology in the Emergency Department

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.

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Medication-related emergency department presentations

In Australia, medication errors result in more than 400,000 visits to general practitioners per year, however the number of patients who present to hospital due to medication-related harm is unclear. Previous Australian and international research suggests that at least 2% of emergency department (ED) presentations are due to medication-related harm and up to one quarter of those patients require admission to hospital. Importantly, the majority of such presentations are potentially preventable, which means that interventions that target medication safety in the community and adverse events that result in ED presentations could improve patient safety and quality of life, and reduce the burden on emergency and acute health services. Before we can target strategies designed to reduce medication-related harm in the community that results in patients requiring care in the ED, we need to understand how commonly this occurs, and which patients are at higher risk of possible harm. In this study we will determine how common this problem is, the characteristics of the events and the patients in whom medication-related harm occurs, and also estimate the health service costs of medication-related ED presentations.

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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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Randomised controlled trial of two antidote regimens for paracetamol overdose

Paracetamol is the commonest medications taken in overdose and is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the developed world. The antidote, acetylcysteine, which replenishes liver glutathione was developed in the 1970’s. However the regimen (20 hours duration) was never subjected to either a randomised controlled trial or any dose ranging studies. The regimen gives a large loading dose and the remainder of the infusion (20 hours) is given to mirror the time taken for paracetamol to be cleared by the liver. This time is only an average and depends on the degree of liver damage. For normal livers it is much shorter (12 hours).

The aim of the study is to compare acetylcysteine given over 20 hours compared to 12 hours for patients presenting early with paracetamol overdose to see if it provides the same protection against liver damage. The research design will be a multicentre non inferiority per protocol unblinded randomised controlled trial of a 20 hour versus a 12 hour regimen of acetylcysteine in paracetamol overdose. The study will be undertaken at the Princes Alexandra, Calvary Mater Newcastle and Prince of Wales hospitals. Eligible patients will be paracetamol overdoses less than 30g presenting within 8 hours of ingestion.

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A brief psychological intervention to promote recovery after mild traumatic brain injury

Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a common injury with potentially profound consequences. Although many patients recover within a few days to a few weeks, an estimated 15-40% develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS), which consists of an array of cognitive, emotional, and physical symptoms.(TBI symptoms that persist beyond three months often develop into a chronic, potentially life-long, health problem.)

PCS is associated with problems returning to work, social difficulties, higher healthcare utilisation, and poorer quality of life. The mitigation of PCS represents a significant clinical problem. An effective evidence-based early intervention to prevent PCS is sorely needed.

There is a growing consensus that differences in patient outcomes from mTBI are due to a range of biopsychosocial factors. For example, stress, anxiety, cognitive biases, sleep disturbance, and structural brain damage are among a number of factors that influence PCS symptom report. A focus on modifiable psychosocial factors (e.g., thoughts and behaviours) offers a promising solution: Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) is well suited to altering the maladaptive beliefs, misattributions, cognitive biases and coping behaviours that promote chronicity in PCS.

The purpose of this study is to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of a Cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy (CBT)-based early intervention for patients at high-risk of developing PCS after mTBI. It is a two-site non-blinded, parallel group, randomised controlled trial comparing treatment-as-usual (TAU) and TAU+CBT intervention.

Developing an effective intervention for PCS is a critical and much-needed step in advancing our approach to the clinical management of mTBI. The outcomes of this research can inform the coordination of post-discharge care and treatment pathways, and reduce readmissions and new occasions of care.

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Too much of a good thing: does fluid resuscitation worsen septic shock?

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.

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The sepsis registry: A prospective database to characterise and facilitate improved outcome for admitted patients with community-acquired infection.

This study aims to improve our understanding of sepsis in Australian Emergency Departments. We will do this by analysing in great detail the spectrum of infection syndromes presenting to the Emergency Department of a typical large Australian hospital over a period of several years. This will allow us to:

1) Identify the number of patients presenting to hospitals each year with severe infections and the outcome of these presentations.
2) Analyse the factors and information available to doctors in the Emergency Department that are associated with overall prognosis in patients with infection.
3) Build a comprehensive picture of the spectrum of infective agents that cause patients to be admitted to Australian hospitals.
4) Identify the most appropriate combination of antibiotics which should be used in the early treatment of the most severely ill patients with infection.

The cornerstone of this project is a large database which will capture detailed information on all patients presenting to the Emergency Department of a typical large Australian hospital who are subsequently admitted with infection.

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Capacity Building Grant: Princess Alexandra Hospital

The Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) Emergency Department is a designated Level 6 Trauma Centre. In 2012, in excess of 50,000 patients presented to the PAH ED, of which more than 35 per cent were admitted.
Clinical expertise within the PAH ED is wide, with specific disease emphasis in toxicology, chronic disease, multi-system disease associated with the elderly population, cardiovascular disease, sepsis and septic shock, infectious diseases and critical care.
The PAH ED is a tertiary referral hospital for trainees of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine and excels in service delivery and education; areas in which it has a national reputation for excellence.
The outcome from Phase 1 of the QEMRF funded three-year plan to increase research capacity within the PAH ED was successful with all key performance indicators being exceeded.
Phase 2 will build on the platform created in Phase 1 focusing on research promoting prevention or control of diseases.
The vision for research within the PAH ED is that the ED will be regarded as a leader in emergency medicine research attracting clinical and research staff and producing outcomes which will change clinical practice and improve the health and well-being of patients.

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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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