Results for Health System and Governance


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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Mixed methods study of the Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI)

As the population of Australia grows the percentage of those aged >65years is expected to double over the next 30 years. This will lead to more patients presenting to emergency of which a significantly larger portion will be frail and/or from residential care facilities (RCF). This vulnerable population is at significant risk of hospital acquired complications including acute confusion, falls, and infections if they suffer prolonged stays in the emergency department (ED) or on admission to hospital.

The GEDI program is an innovative nurse led intervention designed to improve emergency care of frail older persons who develop an acute medical problem. GEDI's are trained in geriatrics and have excellent communication skills liaising with RCF staff, families, general practitioners, ED medical officers/nurses and inpatient teams. Their role also involves patient centred geriatric risk assessment and management to minimise the negative impact of the older person’s emergency visit. The program has already been shown to led to a decrease in ED and hospital length of stay, improved patient and staff satisfaction and decrease in overall cost of care.

In this research project, we will evaluate the structures, processes and outcomes of the GEDI intervention relevant to the RCF cohort. This study will look specifically at the RCF dwelling cohort as they have often been excluded from previous studies. We hope to use the outcomes of this research to gain a greater understanding of the problems faced by our frail ED RCF population and with this knowledge develop innovative evidenced based healthcare solutions.

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Developing a regional strategy for reducing non-urgent emergency department presentations

Many people who attend hospital emergency departments (EDs) are triaged as having non-urgent concerns, which could be managed by other health services such as the GP. The way regional health services are designed can contribute to the rate of non-urgent presentations in EDs. The impact of non-urgent patients in EDs can result in crowding, ambulance diversion and access block, which are linked to poorer patient outcomes, increased morbidity and staff burnout. While some recognition of this problem exists nationally, many policies or strategies implemented to reduce the incidence of these presentations have not been evidence-based, effective or economically evaluated. We aim to develop a draft regional strategy for reducing non-urgent presentations in emergency.

Prior research on this project was funded by La Trobe University ($20,000), the Clifford Craig Medical Research Trust ($5000) and a University of Tasmania Scholarship ($5000).

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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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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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