Results for 2017


Research capacity building: Redcliffe Hospital

Redcliffe Hospital Emergency Department (ED) has a growing research track record and an increasing number of clinical staff engaging in research-related activities. To capitalise on this burgeoning interest, we will funding a dedicated Clinical Research Coordinator to provide active support, coordination and promotion of both current and future research activities. The aim of our endeavour is to establish research as a core element of ED activity, together with education & training, provision of clinical care and maintenance of standards in healthcare. We intend to conduct our future research under the auspices of leaders and champions representing four thematic headings: 1. Clinical Care, 2. National Standards, 3. Systems and Process Design, 4. Education and Training.

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Evaluation of the Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) implementation

Advances in health have led to populations living longer with more chronic disease and frailty. Frail older people presenting to emergency departments (EDs) have special needs that are often overlooked. In response, the innovative Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) was developed by clinicians at Nambour Hospital, Queensland.

GEDI is a unique nurse-led, physician-championed model of service delivery which facilitates advanced assessment tailored to the individual, nurse-initiated specialist referral, fast-tracking of care through the ED and appropriate safe discharge planning for persons aged 70 and over, including those from residential aged care facilities. A successful trial in one ED was awarded the 2016 Queensland Premier’s Award for Excellence. The evaluative research we conducted found that when older adults presented to ED during the times the GEDI team was working they were more likely to be discharged, if admitted they spent, on average, 24 hours less in hospital and the costs of their care were reduced by up to 30%.

The staffing for a trial of GEDI in two further Queensland EDs will be funded by the Queensland Health Improvement Unit. This EMF-funded evaluation project employs the principles of implementation science to evaluate the introduction of GEDI into these EDs to determine whether the knowledge learned from the trial can be translated to other sites and to determine the best strategies for future implementations of GEDI across Queensland and interstate. If implementation is found to be successful future roll out of GEDI will improve patient outcomes and reduce costs in Queensland and across the country.

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Assessing Children’s Head Injury: Variation in CT scan use (APHIRST-Gap)

This study will collect information from the records of 3000 children from 30 hospitals presenting after a head injury in 2016 and will interview staff to look at different factors influencing the care provided. APHIRST-Gap is expected to provided crucial information on scan rates and inform strategies, including national guideline development to standardise and improve the care of children with head injury across Australia and New Zealand.

Head injury is a common reason children present to Emergency Departments in Australia and New Zealand. While most are minor the important issue for emergency clinicians is to determine whether a particular child is at risk of a serious head injury such as a bleed on the brain. A computerised tomography(CT) scan is the investigation of choice to look for these injuries. Its use is not without risks though, including those of sedation, and radiation induced cancer.

Several “rules” have been designed to guide doctors in the decision between risk of injury and risk of scan. The recently published Australasian APHIRST study examined three of these rules in our context. It found that all three rules performed well, clinicians made good judgements on who to scan, and the overall rate of CT scan use was low(10%). APHIRST was limited to 10 large metropolitan, and predominately children specific hospitals. Most children in Australia are not seen in these hospitals. Further research is required to determine whether there is a large variation in scan use between different hospitals and how best to apply these findings to a broader range of hospitals.

This trial is being run by the PREDICT network and the Principal Investigator is A/Prof Franz Babl.

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Preventing chronic pain after whiplash injury

After whiplash injury, half of patients never fully recover. The human and economic cost is enormous, and current mainstay treatments are ineffective. Most recovery, if it occurs, takes place in the first two to three months. This early time period offers a ‘window of opportunity’ to pro-actively intervene and prevent the chronic pain. The Emergency Department (ED) is ideally placed to provide very early intervention. We have shown that upregulation of pain in the central nervous system occurs soon after whiplash injury and predicts poor recovery. We aim to target these central nervous system processes with pregabalin in conjunction with evidence based physiotherapy advice/exercise in the ED. The results have potential to fundamentally change the treatment of acute whiplash injury.

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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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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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Data linkage & patient outcome study: Aeromedical services in Central Queensland

The development of linked data from aeromedical retrieval & health system databases will provide improved, value-added insights to patient care and outcome analysis. This first-of-its-kind study seeks to take the next step in patient-centered outcomes research and resource allocation planning by linking together existing, but independent emergency department, aeromedical, hospital and death databases. Our pilot study has linked databases, creating secure & robust infrastructure for future state-wide studies.

The aims of the study are:
a) Utilise the linked data infrastructure that we’ve created, allowing next phase state-wide replication; describe aeromedical patient outcomes (including length of stay and mortality); understand aeromedical service requirements for specific illness/ injury, those that require frequent flights, & identify steps within the patient journey.
b) Develop a better understanding of the aeromedical patient journey will help to develop appropriate health services delivery, in particular emergency departments whom most often are first point-of-service, thus ensuring better health outcomes.

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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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Domestic and family violence screening in the emergency department

Domestic and family violence (DFV) against women is the number one cause of hospitalisations in Australian girls and women aged 15-54 years. It is also the number one cause of death and disability in women aged 15 to 44. Although most victims of fatal DFV access health services in the 24 months prior to their deaths, many victims living with DFV go unnoticed in the community. Health care providers are well placed to identify DFV victims and refer them to appropriate services. The ED has been described as a good place to undertake identification of DFV victims in several published research papers. Yet, how to do this remains controversial, and there are no standard protocols in place in our EDs. In this project, we aim to describe the current DFV health practice culture in five Queensland EDs. Knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes, as well as what’s actually happening to detect cases of DFV, will be assessed among our front-line ED social workers, nurses, and doctors. We aim to determine how many presentations to ED are identified and referred to social worker services for DFV. Ultimately, this research will both raise awareness about the potential of the ED to detect DFV, and will help pave the way forward to a well-informed and structured ED DFV screening program for Queensland, with applicability internationally.

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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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