Results for Staff Specialist


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the UK and Australasia demonstrate significant variation in practice, although Australasian data is nearly 10 years out of date.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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

Propofol on trial for headaches in the Emergency Department setting

Headache is a common and frequently disabling clinical disorder that accounts for nearly 2% of all emergency department presentations. Often patients are experiencing a headache that is not responding to commonly available medications. However, there is no good evidence to support which available hospital medications consistently offer effective pain relief to individuals with these types of refractory headache. Understandably this is a challenging scenario in the emergency department setting for both the patient and physician that often leads to inadequate or unsatisfactory symptom relief.

In a few small trials, there has been promising evidence that the medication propofol is potentially an effective, safe and quick treatment alternative for stubborn headaches. It is important to note that propofol is not a new medication and is routinely used on a daily basis throughout hospitals for both general anaesthesia and procedural sedation.

It is the intention of this research project to demonstrate that infusing a low dose of this medication over a relatively short period of time is an effective new use for a familiar and already commonly utilised medication. This treatment is aimed at a specific cohort of patients who present with acute or subacute migraine-like headache in whom the standard available treatment options have failed.

This study has the potential to introduce a new safe and effective treatment option for stubborn headaches that can significantly reduce treatment times by rapidly restoring patients to baseline levels of function and comfort. Furthermore it reduces overall lengths of stay in the emergency department and contributes to overall improved emergency department patient flow.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

First aid oxygen treatment of divers with decompression sickness

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

Evaluating rates of skin colonisation with MRSA or Group A Streptococci

Group A Streptococcal (GAS) is known to be the cause of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Chronic Rheumatic Heart Disease (CRHD).

Worldwide Community acquired (CA) Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is an increasing problem which has also been identified in Australia since the 1990s. At times, the rates in North West HHS have been as high as 30%. This has implications for both the local HHS and the health system more broadly for patients that then require transfer to other facilities.

The purpose of this research is to conduct a snapshot study for the evaluation of rate of skin colonisation or infection with MRSA and/or Group A Streptococci (SCIMAG).

The aim of this study is to establish the percentage of patients with skin colonisation and/or infection with GAS and/or MRSA. It will assess the utility of point of care (non-culture) methods to detect colonisation and/or infection. This is of relevance not only for the Mount Isa Hospital Emergency Department (MIH ED), but both State-wide and nation-wide.

Findings from this research will contribute to the development and implementation of a guideline for diagnosis and antibiotic treatment (antibiotic stewardship) for Mount Isa and the North West. This guideline would be applicable to other States.

READ MORE

Ketamine versus propofol in sedation of psychiatric patients requiring retrieval

In this study, we will compare the safety and effectiveness of ketamine and propofol in sedating acute psychiatric patients needing aeromedical retrieval. We believe that this is the first trial of its kind which will elucidate the complications, the safety profile and effectiveness of the two drugs in sedating acute psychiatric patients. The study will be a prospective, open-labelled, randomised controlled trial. Patients will be drawn the Northern Territory and Queensland. Through this study, we will better inform clinicians in their choice of a suitable sedation agent and potential provide an additional sedation choice in aeromedical and other critical care environments. Furthermore, this research has the potential to establish sedation guidelines in the aeromedical retrieval of acute psychiatric patients for Australia and internationally.

READ MORE

Is prednisolone an effective treatment for Bell’s Palsy in children?

Bell’s palsy or acute idiopathic lower motor neurone facial paralysis is characterised by sudden onset paralysis or weakness of the muscles to one side of the face controlled by the facial nerve. It is the third most common neurological reason for children to present acutely to hospital.

In adults, there is conclusive evidence from two major recent trials that a short course of prednisolone, a cheap, widely available and safe steroid, can significantly increase the number of Bell’s palsy patients who completely recover. While the medical problems associated with Bell’s palsy are similar, in children there is no good evidence that prednisolone is an effective treatment.

Many neurological conditions progress differently in children and treatment methods sometimes vary. Children may react differently to prednisolone and without paediatric evidence; treatment guidelines for children with Bell’s palsy remain absent or vague, with variable and overall low rates of steroid use in children by physicians.

The lack of evidence and clinical uncertainty in the treatment of Bell’s palsy in children warrants a definitive trial to determine the efficacy of prednisolone as a treatment for this condition in children. The aim of this study is to assess the utility of steroids in Bell’s palsy in children in a large multicentre randomised, placebo-controlled, trial. The trial will take place in at least 10 hospitals within Australia and New Zealand, involving more than 500 children.

READ MORE

Link between clinical errors and emergency shift patterns

There is a well-established link between shift work, nurse exhaustion and clinical errors. However there is a lack of research focusing specifically on Emergency Departments (ED) and nurse rostering patterns.

ED nurses are at particular risk of fatigue due to the fast-paced and demanding nature of the work environment caring for high acuity patients, increasing the risk of clinical errors and threatening patient safety. Shift work in the ED is an around-the-clock occupation, frequently nurses are required to commence work at 07:00 on the morning following a 21:30 finish, a shift pattern termed a “late/early”. Understanding the impact that this shift pattern may have in adverse clinical events is critical for patient and staff well-being.

This novel project will collect and analyse retrospective data from the ED at Nambour General Hospital to ascertain whether late/earlies are associated with adverse patient outcomes. We will use a logistic regression model to analyse data collected from PRIME (electronic database for clinical incident reporting), TrendCare (online nurse rostering system), EDIS (Emergency Department Information System) and patient medical records. This analysis will allow us to identify any association between clinical incident severity rating, patient outcomes, time of the incident, staff roster patterns and level of nursing experience.

The results of this study will therefore provide significant insights into the relationship between ED nurse shift patterns and adverse clinical events. The outcomes of this research may be used to assist and improve rostering practices, fatigue management, staff well being, and improve patient safety outcomes.

READ MORE

SEARCH our
research projects

Applying for a grant? Make use of our application guidelines, SmartyGrants guide, application templates and other resources to help make the process easier.

There are also slides available from our Research 102 workshop.

Researcher support tools

Find out more about our robust and transparent grant process.

Grant process
CONTACT US +61 7 3720 5700 info@emfoundation.org.au 2/15 Lang Parade Milton Qld 4064