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
Not infrequently, doctors working in the Emergency Department (ED) have to decide on how they are to provide treatment to dying patients. Specifically, they have to decide whether to actively treat or whether they should limit or withdraw treatment on patients who are not anticipated to live. Such decisions should be governed by legislature as well as standards set by the Australian Council on Health Care Standards (ACHCS). However, research conducted in our hospital has indicated that doctors consider a wide variety of factors including patient’s and family’s wishes when making such end-of-life decisions. We therefore raise the following questions. First, what factors do doctors take into account when they withdraw or withhold treatment in the ED? Second, are such decisions made in accordance with legislative requirements? To date, no research has examined this issue.
This study addresses this gap by focussing on the decisions leading to withdrawal of treatment in the ED. It is a multi-centre review of patients who die in 2009 in a number of Australian and New Zealand hospitals. The primary aim is to describe the factors that doctors consider when making the decisions to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment. The secondary aims are to determine 1) whether Australian doctors are conducting such processes in line with ACHCS guidelines and 2) whether Queensland doctors are making such decisions in accordance with Queensland legislation.READ MORE
Convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) occurs when seizures do not stop spontaneously. It is the most severe form of epilepsy, and can result in long-term disabilities and rarely death. It can affect both adults and children, although the causes and outcomes are different in these groups of patients. Treatments of patients with CSE are largely based on expert opinion rather than strong evidence, due to the difficult nature of conducting quality trials in patients with this relatively infrequent condition in the emergency setting. We will determine the incidence and causes of CSE in children in Australia and New Zealand and collect information on the type of seizure, duration, treatment and outcome to determine ways to improve the management of children with CSE.READ MORE