Pulmonary embolism (PE) refers to blood clots in the lung. They can cause sudden death, collapse, chest pain, shortness of breath yet sometimes they cause no symptoms at all and are discovered incidentally. As they can be severe, they have become regarded as a not-to-miss diagnosis. As they can present with a variety of symptoms, emergency clinicians consider the possibility of PE on a frequent basis.
When considering whether a patient has a PE, the clinician may confirm or exclude the diagnosis directly with definitive chest scans. However, these scans are time consuming, costly and have other side effects including exposure to radiation and to chemical contrast agents. When patients are assessed to be less likely of having a PE, it is often possible to safely exclude PE by applying a set of clinical decision rules or doing a blood test called a D-dimer. If the level of D-dimer is below a certain threshold, then PE can be excluded.
We aim to safely exclude PE without scans where possible. Evidence has been building that employing a higher D-dimer threshold is reasonable, yet uptake of this newer approach is limited. We hope to demonstrate that a higher threshold can work in Australia without compromising safety. This will be a large study that answers this question and if shown to be the case, then patient care can be improved while using less resources in busy emergency departments.READ MORE
The aim of the proposed EMF grant is to enable Townsville University Hospitals' emergency department (TUH DEM) to create a stable platform for prolific, innovative and translational research. Further more, it will contribute to the strategic vision of TUH DEM being a centre of excellence in EM research and innovation that delivers high-quality emergency care. The research capacity building grant will support an Emergency Medicine Clinical Research Coordinator to assist research active emergency clinicians in sustaining ongoing projects, designing and conducting new high-quality, outcome-oriented projects, nurturing the next generation of EM researchers and embedding research into daily business of TUH-DEM.READ MORE
Older patients with minor head injury routinely get a head scan in emergency departments due to the risk of a brain bleed. Recent studies have suggested that some of these patients may not need a head scan. However, doctors do not currently have an accurate method to identify those patients who do not need a scan.
This research aims to identify a subgroup of older patients with minor head injury who do not have a brain bleed and can be safely managed without a head scan. As there are no known Australian studies in this area, this innovative project addresses a common problem in a vulnerable group of patients with several potential benefits.
The study will inform emergency doctors about the feasibility of larger Australian studies to develop a reliable and accurate method to identify older patients who do not have a brain bleed and do not need a head scan. Such a method could benefit patients by reducing transfer from rural and remote communities to bigger hospitals for a head scan, reducing waiting times in emergency departments and reducing exposure to radiation. Such a method could also have significant cost savings to the Australian healthcare system by reducing costs associated with patient transfers, head scans and prolonged emergency department wait times.READ MORE
Healthcare in general and Emergency Departments (ED) in particular are stressful environments associated with excessive work demands, long hours and often limited support.
These pressures are compounded by staff shortages, fiscal constraints and increased ED presentations and patient acuity. Against this background where resources are so stretched, the COVID-19 pandemic poses intense and prolonged pressure.
The cumulative impact of chronic stress adversely affects the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of ED staff, leading to burn-out and to difficulties with staff recruitment and retention, decreased morale and job satisfaction.
Promoting staff wellness may enhance their ability to cope with occupational stress through support systems, development of resilience and building social connection. However engaging staff who are chronically stressed is a challenge.
It has never been timelier to identify effective evidenced based strategies that promote wellness and can be rigorously evaluated for the ED context. This project aims to qualitatively assess ED staff perceptions of Workplace Wellbeing activities, their views on measures to improve engagement, and perceptions of how to improve staff engagement with these interventions, especially in the context of chronic workplace stress.READ MORE
Each year 40,000 Australians suffer a stroke, most of which arise from interruptions in the blood supply to the brain. Treatments for stroke focus on restoring the brain’s blood supply to limit the number of brain cells which die. Patients who suffer stroke due to a blockage of the arteries supplying the brain (LVO-stroke), benefit from surgical restoration of the blood supply (known as endovascular clot retrieval, ECR), but this is only effective if performed within 24 hours of stroke onset.
Rapid detection of patients with LVO-stroke is key, however many unrelated conditions can mimic stroke symptoms. Patients suspected of suffering a stroke therefore require intensive examination and brain scans to confirm diagnosis before treatment can begin. This delays care provision, particularly for patients in regional areas who must travel to access specialist equipment. Furthermore, the sensitivity of brain scans during the early stages of stroke is poor, increasing the potential for misdiagnosis.
Researchers propose developing a blood test to rapidly screen patients for stroke. Previous research identified 11 new markers in the blood of stroke patients, suggesting diagnostic potential. In this study, researchers we will screen blood samples collected from patients with LVO-stroke to discover markers specifically associated with ECR requirement. The study will also compare the diagnostic performance of identified markers to the screening tool currently used by emergency teams to assess clinical usefulness.READ MORE
The amount of Brown snake antivenom required to properly neutralise the venom delivered in a brown snake bite remains controversial. Using appropriate amounts reduces the risks and side effects of antivenom, while optimising its positive effects. One of the major clinical symptoms of Brown snake bite is massive bleeding. We aim to use a novel method for analysis of blood clotting (the ROTEM analyser) to study the effects of Brown snake venom on blood clotting and how different doses of antivenom affect this. This information may enable us to develop a simple point of care test to determine the optimal dose of antivenom to be given, reducing the amount of antivenom needed, the length of hospital stay, and therefore overall cost of snake bite management.READ MORE
Decompression sickness (DCS), commonly called the bends, involves formation of gas bubbles in the body following scuba diving. These bubbles can cause a variety of problems, ranging from minor aches and pain, to severe stroke-like symptoms. Providing pre-hospital oxygen therapy at the highest concentration possible provides needed oxygen to body tissues, reduces bubbles and can often relieve symptoms. Oxygen has been shown to reduce the number of hyperbaric treatments a diver with DCS will require so improving pre-hospital oxygen delivery will lead to decreased hospital costs. However, the ideal oxygen delivery system has not been determined.
Using new techniques and equipment, this research will identify the optimal device for delivering oxygen to divers with DCS leading to recommendations which will improve the health outcomes of injured divers. We will measure how effectively varied breathing devices deliver oxygen to the body tissues and remove bubbles from the diver’s blood while assessing innovative equipment. This study will assess a new commercially available oral mask to improve oxygen delivery with a demand system. A medical oxygen re-breather, which like an anaesthetic machine absorbs carbon dioxide and adds small amounts of oxygen to the breathing circuit, will be also assessed.
Assessing the use of these devices will not only determine their efficacy to deliver oxygen to injured divers but also provide guidance on appropriate systems to use for dive operators with limited medical oxygen. Assessing the change in bubble grade with oxygen delivery will add evidence for its use. This research will provide information that can guide pre-hospital and emergency clinicians when choosing the type of oxygen delivery devices used for injured divers improving patient outcomes and decreasing costs.READ MORE
Diving is a common recreational activity for both Queenslanders and tourists alike. It forms the basis for whole tourism industries based on the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately diving does have risks which includes decompression illness (DCI). DCI involves formation of gas bubbles and can be fatal. Treatment usually involves re-pressurisation in special chambers designed to ‘squash’ the bubbles and reduce symptoms. Affected divers can only receive this treatment in certain hospitals. They may need to be transported urgently by helicopters from the reef to hospital. However, some people believe that the vibration of the helicopter may increase the number of bubbles and make symptoms worse before divers can access treatment. This study will determine if this is true – will bubbles actually be increased by the vibration associated with helicopter flight? If vibration does increase bubble formation, then in the future alternative strategies for transporting DCI patients can be implemented to reduce the risk to these patients. To ensure safety the vibration record of helicopter flight will be recorded and reproduced using a vibrating basket model. Healthy volunteers accompanying divers in the recompression chamber will be assessed with a special ultrasound to detect bubbles following the ‘dive’ and then placed in the vibrating basket. The number of bubbles present after this will be measured again. This study will help ensure safe transport of injured divers not just in Queensland but internationally. This global importance is represented in the research team, which includes members from both Canada and other Australian states, which are collaborating in a Queensland based study.READ MORE
Ureteric colic (or Kidney stones) is a significant public health concern within Australia, affecting as many as 5-15% of adults. As a result, a significant number of Australians experience significant pain, hospital and outpatient visits, and the potential for more significant complications such as infection, kidney damage and the need for surgical treatments.
Although several methods of medical treatments to improve care of such patients have been studied overseas, some of which appear promising, the practice of “medical expulsive therapy” for ureteric colic is not widely practiced in Australia. One such medication is Tamsulosin, which seems to have an effect on the ureter (tube from kidney to bladder) and helps stones pass. It is already in use for other urological conditions already in Australia, and studies overseas seem to show benefit for patients with Ureteric colic.
Within Queensland Health there is substantial variation with regard to access to specialist urologist services. Benefits of medical therapies for ureteric colic may be even greater in geographically isolated areas without full time urology services.
Patients who present to the participating emergency departments with Ureteric calculi, that fit the inclusion criteria will be randomly allocated to either the study medication (Tamsulosin 0.4mg daily) or placebo. The patients will then be closely monitored for four weeks, to determine if the stones pass spontaneously, or if any complications occur. At four weeks the study will be complete, patients who are yet to have passed the stone, would be referred to Urology for consideration of a procedure.READ MORE