One of the main reasons that acute pain is not well treated in the emergency department (ED) setting is that pain is difficult to measure. While patient-reported outcome measures (PROMS) are commonly used to help guide treatment of pain in settings such as chronic pain care, cancer care and migraine care, there are no similar tools available for patients with acute pain in the ED. Further hampering efforts to provide better ED pain care is poor overall understanding of the numbers and types of patients that experience pain.
Since it is a symptom rather than a diagnosis, information about pain is not systematically collected and is often obscured within free-text clinical notes. The lack of readily-available data makes it difficult to determine who exactly has experienced pain, and to design research studies to evaluate new and existing treatments.
Researchers aim to validate a PROM for pain care in the ED by administering to 400 patients who present with pain to one of two large hospital EDs. The aim is to find out the incidence and characteristics of patients who present with pain to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital ED, by using novel machine- and deep-learning techniques to process free-text information from clinical notes. This study will provide new knowledge and techniques that are essential for clinician-researchers to design and conduct studies that will ultimately improve pain care in the ED.READ MORE
Hip fractures are extremely painful yet medications which are usually used to manage the pain can have significant complications, particularly in frail individuals. Numbing medications injected into the groin on the side of the hip fracture have been shown to decrease pain, confusion and chest infections in patients with hip fracture awaiting an operation.
It is usual for most patients presenting to emergency departments with a hip fracture to get a single injection of numbing medication. What isn’t known is whether multiple regular doses of numbing medications injected regularly via a plastic tube in the groin are more effective than a single injection in managing the pain of hip fractures.
The purpose of this study is to show multiple regular doses of numbing medications are better than a single injection. This will be achieved by examining the difference in the amount of pain, the quantity of pain medications, and the degree of confusion between the patients getting multiple doses and those getting a single injection.
This study will be the first of its kind to be done in an emergency department and is also unique in that it will involve patients with dementia who make up more than a third of patients with hip fracture and are usually excluded from studies. The study is expected to help manage the pain of the 1.6 million hip fracture patients worldwide and give emergency doctors an additional option of managing hip fracture pain.READ MORE
In this project we will evaluate a new pathway for assessing chest pain in the emergency department. The pathway is designed to reduce the costs of managing patients at low-risk of heart attack without compromising patient safety. The cost savings are estimated to be around $95 million if implemented Australia-wide, with the bulk of the cost reduction being through decreased length of stay in the emergency department.
The new pathway will be implemented at three Queensland hospitals. Data collected before and after the implementation of this pathway will be used to assess 1) whether it results in a shorter length of stay in hospital, 2) whether it is safe for identifying heart attack, and 3) whether it reduces healthcare utilisation and healthcare costs.
Over 450,000 patients present to an Australian emergency department with chest pain every year. The current approach to rule out heart attack for these patients is lengthy and costly, taking up to 26 hours at a cost of $2,127 per patient.
The question of fluid volume in resuscitation has been identified as the top priority in sepsis research by emergency physicians in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Guidelines and sepsis pathways recommend an initial intravenous (IV) fluid bolus of 30ml/kg isotonic crystalloid for patients with sepsis and hypotension. However, there is a lack of evidence from clinical trials to support this strategy. Both observational data as well as randomised studies suggest there may be harm associated with injudicious use of fluids in sepsis. Since there is equipoise regarding a more liberal or restricted fluid volume resuscitation as first line treatment for sepsis-related hypotension, we conducted the pilot multicentre REstricted Fluid REsuscitation in Sepsis-associated Hypotension (REFRESH) trial comparing a restricted fluid protocol with early initiation of vasopressor support against standard guideline care.
The data from REFRESH will inform feasibility of a large, multicentre phase III study. However, further ground work is essential for the optimal design of a Phase III trial that will provide valuable information on feasibility (road test recruitment rate and screening processes) as well as refinement of the protocol (sample size estimation, processes of care, prevalence of the population of interest, real world clinical practice regarding fluid use).
In this ARISE Fluids study, we aim to provide more insight into current practice by conducting a bi-national multi-site prospective observational study of fluid administration in (suspected) sepsis and hypotension in the Emergency Departments of Australia and New Zealand hospitals. Sites have been selected on the basis of having expressed interest in participating in a phase III trial.READ MORE
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 provide 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 presents risks though, including the risk of sedation, and radiation induced cancer.
Several “rules” have been designed to guide doctors in the decision, by weighing up the risk of injury with the risks associated with the scan. The published Australasian APHIRST study examined three of these rules. It found that all three rules performed well, clinicians made sound judgements, and the overall rate of CT scan use was low (10%). APHIRST was limited to 10 large metropolitan, and predominately paediatric 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 Prof Franz Babl.READ MORE
Patients with infections are a leading cause of presentations to the Emergency Department (ED), with severe sepsis and infection causing an estimated 20,000 deaths each day across the world. Treatment is aimed at eradicating the infection and supporting the patient while recovery can take place. Frequently patients develop low blood pressure as a result of immune response that can ultimately result in further organ injury (termed septic shock). Intravenous fluids are recommended by international guidelines as the first line therapy in the ED to treat low blood pressure of sepsis with the hope of preventing organ injury and death. Despite 50 years of use in sepsis, the rationale for fluids remains based in theory rather than clear evidence it is effective in saving lives. Disconcertingly, there is now increasing evidence that fluids in sepsis are ineffective and may actually worsen patient survival. Despite this fluids continue to be recommended and used liberally in the ED resulting in conflict between our historical practice and the best evidence.
We have developed an animal model of septic shock and resuscitation in order to test the effectiveness of fluid resuscitation. This will allow us to both understand the true effect but also investigate the underlying physiological mechanisms of any harms.READ MORE
Shortness of breath (dyspnoea) is a terrifying symptom experienced by patients and is a common reason for presentation to Emergency Departments. There are a wide range of causes including flair up due to chronic conditions such as asthma, heart failure, chronic lung disease or liver or kidney failure. Acute conditions such as a collapsed lung, chest infection (including pneumonia), trauma (including fractured ribs), airway blockage or an allergic reaction can also be the cause.
There is significant knowledge about patients who are admitted to hospital with common causes, however there is little conclusive information about Dyspnoea as a symptom, the distribution of causes, the proportion of patients requiring admission and whether treatment complies with evidence-based guidelines.
A recent pilot study in Europe found that 53 per cent of patients had a respiratory cause for symptoms, 22 per cent had a cardiac cause, and 15 per cent had both cardiac and respiratory components. Almost two-thirds were admitted to hospital with over one-third discharged from ED. However, in many ways, the study raised more questions than it answered. The study was also too small to comment on adherence to evidence-based guidelines.
For that reason, a larger EuroDEM (digital elevation model) study is planned for 2014. The study will be complemented by the Australia, Asia and New Zealand Dyspnoea Departments of Emergency Medicine (AANZDEM) which will collect data from a different region with different systems of care. It will focus on the range of causes, variation over seasons and geographical areas, and compliance with recommended treatments.READ MORE
Intravenous lines are placed in the majority of patients admitted to hospital. Unfortunately they often fall out, become infected, cause irritation & pain or become blocked. Occasionally this can cause a life threatening illness. Blood can leak from the intravenous line onto the patient’s skin, clothing or bed linen. This causes patient distress. It can also be dangerous for hospital staff if they accidentally come into contact with the blood.
The insertion of a replacement intravenous line is generally regarded as an unpleasant experience that would be nice to avoid. The IVL-GONE research team are researching the use of common skin glue (think super-glue) to ‘stick-on’ the intravenous line. Other benefits are thought to include keeping the bugs out, improving patient comfort & helping to protect hospital staff from blood. If the skin glue works as well as preliminary studies indicate, this could be a simple solution for a worldwide problem; Queensland research leading the world.READ MORE
One of the causes of patients getting sick in hospital is the transfer of bacteria from one patient to the other (nosocomial infection). This transfer of bacteria can lead to serious illness, even death. There are numerous precautions taken in hospital to prevent this, such as hand washing, wearing gloves, sterile gowns and gloves during procedures etc. There has been a tremendous growth in the use of point of care ultrasound to assist clinicians in the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit and Anaesthetic Department. We suspect that probes, which are in contact with patients’ skin are not cleaned as often or as thoroughly as they should be. This might lead to bacterial colonization.
Often the ultrasound probes are used to assist with invasive procedures such as the placement of central and peripheral venous catheters. There is a potential for the probes to be contaminated by patients’ blood during these procedures, as well as their skin bacteria. This situation would clearly pose a risk to the well being of our patients and staff, and these procedures are most commonly performed on our sickest, most at risk patients.
We aim to investigate the bacterial colonization and blood contamination on ultrasound probes in the Emergency Departments and Intensive Care Units across numerous hospitals in South East Queensland. The amount of bacteria, the type of bacteria and the amount of blood contamination will be investigated and reported. This study has the potential to demonstrate possible contamination of our sickest patients by blood and pathogenic bacteria from ultrasound probes used by the clinicians who are caring for them. The results should lead to recommendations regarding standardised work practices for the use of this equipment in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department.READ MORE
The REFRESH study is a multicentre, open-label, randomised, phase II clinical feasibility trial. This is the first randomised trial examining fluid volume for initial resuscitation in septic shock in an industrialised country. A pragmatic, open-label design will establish the feasibility of undertaking a large, international, multicentre trial with sufficient power to assess clinical outcomes. The embedded biomarker study aims to provide mechanistic plausibility for a larger trial by defining the effects of fluid volume on markers of systemic inflammation and the vascular endothelium.
Participants will be patients presenting to the emergency departments of Australian metropolitan hospitals with suspected sepsis and a systolic blood pressure of < 100 mmHg, persisting after a 1000-ml fluid bolus with isotonic crystalloid. Participants will be randomised to either a second 1000-ml fluid bolus (standard care) or maintenance rate fluid only, with the early commencement of a vasopressor infusion to maintain a mean arterial pressure of > 65 mmHg, if required (restricted fluid). All will receive further protocolised fluid boluses (500 ml or 250 ml, respectively), if required during the 6-h study period. The primary outcome measure is total volume administered in the first 6 h. Secondary outcomes include fluid volume at 24 h, organ support 'free days' to day 28, 90-day mortality, and a range of feasibility and process-of-care measures. Participants will also undergo serial measurement, over the first 24 h, of biomarkers of inflammation, endothelial cell activation and glycocalyx degradation for comparison between the groups.READ MORE