Results for Health System and Governance


Understanding end-of-life care for older people presenting to the ED

The overarching aim of this study is to estimate the magnitude of the need for care at the end of life care in the emergency department, and to describe care delivery practices, processes and outcomes for older people who present to the emergency department requiring end of life care.
Australians aged 65 years and over account for 22% of emergency department presentations. Currently, this group makes up 15% of the population, but this predicted to rise to 20% by 2037.

There are two trajectories of end of life in the emergency department: ‘unexpected’ and ‘expected’ deaths. Unexpected deaths stem from acute illness or sudden, traumatic events. Expected deaths stem from deterioration of chronic illnesses.
When expected deaths occur in the emergency department, staff dissatisfaction and distress as well as frustration for patients and their families can result. In Singapore, around 50% of deaths in people aged ≥ 65 who died in one emergency department were considered ‘expected’. This highlights the need to understand if the situation is the same here in Australia and to what extent quality end of life care is provided for both trajectories of dying (i.e. expected and unexpected). Our study will identify the ‘unexpected’ and the ‘expected’ deaths among people aged ≥ 65 who die within 48 hours of emergency department presentation.

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Reaction of Emergency Services uPON Disasters in Queensland

From a health perspective, a disaster overwhelms the normal operating capacity of a health service, where an outside health response is required to restore and maintain the normal day-to-day health services and standards of care for the disaster-affected community. The Australian healthcare system is tested annually with disasters of a conventional nature (e.g., floods, cyclones, bushfires), however, the Australian healthcare system has not been recently tested by non-conventional disasters such as Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and explosive (CBRNe) disasters. As a result, the ability to determine the healthcare system response is difficult. Further, there is no research specific to the Australian emergency department’s capacity for disaster response in CBRNe events.

This study addresses this gap. We will use a mixed methods approach to undertake two discrete, yet related studies. Study 1 involves undertaking surveys with key emergency disaster personnel from seven Queensland hospitals to describe the capacity of hospital emergency care services ability to respond following a CBRNe disaster. Study 2 includes undertaking focus groups with key clinicians and leaders from the participating sites to identify and explore enablers and barriers within emergency care services to provide CBRNe disaster response. Findings from these studies will provide an evidence base regarding the capacity for several Queensland emergency departments, located in metropolitan, regional and rural settings, to respond to disasters.

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uSing Meditation App to Reduce ED occupational sTress (SMART) trial

Our study aims to test whether a mindfulness program delivered by a smartphone app can reduce occupational stress levels among Emergency Department (ED) staff. This study will recruit staff at two regional EDs. Staff will practice short session mindfulness daily, for four weeks, using a smartphone meditation app. The study will determine if, by using the app, staff levels of occupational stress are reduced and overall wellness increased. The levels of stress reduction will be compared before and after the intervention.

Working in an ED can be stressful. It has been suggested that up to half ED doctors and nurses may suffer from burnout due to high workload, overcrowding and limited resources. Staff stress and its negative consequence pose challenging issues to both individual clinicians and healthcare organisations. Sub-optimal wellness of staff is closely associated with poor patient care, more medical incidents and a high staff turnover rate. One way to reduce staff stress levels is by promoting staff coping skills and wellness. Mindfulness is a mental technique to focus self-awareness at the present moment and non-judgmentally. It has been used widely to promote staff workplace wellness. Smartphone apps are a relatively new delivery method for mindfulness that has not yet been tested among ED staff.

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Improving blood culture collections in the emergency department

The primary aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness of an intervention designed to improve the quality of blood cultures collected in a busy emergency department.

Blood cultures are tests that are frequently ordered by emergency doctors to detect and identify bacteria present in the blood of patients who are unwell. The test requires a sample of blood to be collected from the patient. Like many tests, the quality of the results is related to the quality of the sample collection process.

Several factors may influence the quality of sample collection and increase the chance of sample contamination. These include not collecting enough blood and poor sterility of the collection process. Contamination of blood cultures may result in the patient staying longer in hospital, being prescribed unnecessary antibiotics and increasing the costs of care.

This study will implement a rigorous intervention to reduce contamination rates in blood culture samples collected at the Emergency and Trauma Centre at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. The intervention comprises: education to staff that collect blood cultures; the introduction of blood culture collection kits; and regular feedback of quality indicators to the clinicians that collect blood cultures.

If the intervention is successful then a reduction in blood culture contamination rates and single sets of cultures should be seen. The average volume of blood cultured should increase. These outcomes should lead to a reduction in patients’ lengths of stay, costs of care, and positive effects in anti-microbial stewardship and patient flow.

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Valuing patients’ experience in the emergency department

Improving patient experiences is part of Queensland’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan to enable safe, quality healthcare services. Yet, current emergency department(ED) patient experience measures, including the burdensome 82-item Queensland Health (QH) ED patient experience survey, fail to reflect patient preferences for care experiences, inhibiting the design and evaluation of healthcare services that reflect patient preferences, and the delivery of value-based healthcare.

The aim of this project is to develop an ED patient experience classification system and accompanying scoring algorithm that can be used to both measure and value patient experiences in Queensland EDs. It will provide a proof of concept for an Australia-wide development, valuation and knowledge transfer study.

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Emergency Examination Authorities and their impacts on North Queensland Hospitals

Emergency Departments (EDs) receive persons suffering major disturbances in their mental capacities, detained and transported by police or ambulance. The Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) (‘PHA’) – amended and in force 5 March 2017 – requires police and ambulance officers to make out an Emergency Examination Authority (EEA) at handover.1 Previously, Emergency Examination Orders (EEOs) were made out under Queensland’s Mental Health Act 2000 (‘MHA’). At handover, police and ambulance officers must make out an EEA. From handover at the ED, the PHA prescribes specific responsibilities, e.g. a doctor or health practitioner must explain to the person that they may be detained for 6-12 hours, the ED Director can order their forced return if they abscond and must take reasonable steps to return patients to a place requested.

Using qualitative and quantitative information the study focuses on the time and personnel resources required to investigate how EDs in north Queensland have responded.

No study has assessed the impacts on Queensland EDs of increasing numbers of mental health related presentations in light of legislative changes governing emergency assessment

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Understanding why aged care residents are transferred to the ED

In Australia, the existing model of emergency department care is struggling to cater for the needs of the older population. A large proportion of older patients arriving at emergency departments are from residential aged care facilities (RACFs). Nursing staff in RACFs often participate in decision making pertaining to transfer of residents to the emergency department, but very little research has been done on the decision making involved in this process.

The proposed mixed methods study will engage with RACF nursing staff to understand their decision to transfer a resident, their perception of communication with the emergency department, and the services that influence the decision. The project outcomes will provide a detailed understanding of existing service provision, communication between facilities, and potential gaps in education and skills.

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Junior doctors at triage improve patient flow in the ED

Introducing a novel model of care to the emergency department may provide significant reductions in key performance indicators, such as patient length of stay, or the National Emergency Access Target (NEAT).

In previous studies, researchers have found that rostering a physician to work at triage can lead to significant improvements on a range of metrics, including time to treatment, patient length of stay and rate of patients who left before receiving treatment. However, in a regional hospital where staffing numbers and budgets are under pressure this model may not be possible.

The objective of this study is to implement a novel model of care at triage in the Hervey Bay Hospital Emergency Department. For a trial period of three months, junior doctors (PHO/registrar level) will be rostered to work at triage on alternate day shifts. A range of outcome measures will be compared with day shifts when junior doctors are not rostered at triage. This model may be relevant for other regional emergency departments.

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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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Improving jellyfish sting treatment

EMF funding is improving emergency care for the elderly

Trauma: better treatment for severe bleeding

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