Australia is five years behind the US’ opioid epidemic (>15,000 US deaths/year). General Practitioners and EDs frequently prescribe opioids for isolated musculoskeletal pain (e.g. “whiplash”) from RTCs, but this potentially inappropriate opioid prescribing likely leads to unnecessary opioid exposures. In the last decade, opioid overdoses in Australia have more than doubled. 75% of opioid overdose deaths involve prescription opioids; annual death rates exceed road traffic deaths.
Emergency Departments (EDs) commonly prescribe opioids on discharge for patients with non-serious road traffic crash (RTC) injury. This potentially compromises recovery and contributes to continued opioid use and potential misuse in the community.
The project will address the gap on whether, or for how long, short courses of opioids are continued following acute non-serious RTC injury, and to what extent this causes subsequent problems, by measuring patterns of use, impacts, and costs of opioid use in EDs and following discharge over a 12-month period.
The project will provide the first Australian data on opioid prescribing in ED for acute minor RTC injuries and link ED data to community data to explore longitudinal prescribing patterns post RTC.READ MORE
Our study aims to test whether a mindfulness program delivered by a smartphone app can reduce occupational stress levels among Emergency Department (ED) staff. This study will recruit staff at two regional EDs. Staff will practice short session mindfulness daily, for four weeks, using a smartphone meditation app. The study will determine if, by using the app, staff levels of occupational stress are reduced and overall wellness increased. The levels of stress reduction will be compared before and after the intervention.
Working in an ED can be stressful. It has been suggested that up to half ED doctors and nurses may suffer from burnout due to high workload, overcrowding and limited resources. Staff stress and its negative consequence pose challenging issues to both individual clinicians and healthcare organisations. Sub-optimal wellness of staff is closely associated with poor patient care, more medical incidents and a high staff turnover rate. One way to reduce staff stress levels is by promoting staff coping skills and wellness. Mindfulness is a mental technique to focus self-awareness at the present moment and non-judgmentally. It has been used widely to promote staff workplace wellness. Smartphone apps are a relatively new delivery method for mindfulness that has not yet been tested among ED staff.READ MORE
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
Queensland is known for its ability to attract mass gathering events of international significance, such as the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2032 Olympic Games. Such events have the potential to impact the normal operational capacity of our emergency health services.
The objective of this study is to describe the impact of the 2018 Commonwealth Games 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.
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.READ MORE
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
This clinical trial aims to improve the quality of the resuscitation of patients with traumatic haemorrhage. We are enrolling 100 patients from four major trauma centres in Queensland. Patients admitted with severe traumatic bleeding will be given either Fibrinogen concentrate or cryoprecipitate. Time to administration of these products and effects on blood fibrinogen levels will be measured. We are using innovative technology to identify hypofibrinogenaemia; we will provide data to define the optimal method of replacement and monitoring of the end points of resuscitation; and provide data on the role of fibrinogen concentrate and its use in traumatic haemorrhage. We are also exposing a broad range of ED physicians to potential practice changing research that may be translated to use in other patient groups with critical bleeding.
More than 7000 Australians are treated for severe trauma every year. Major bleeding in the setting of trauma is associated with poor outcomes and increased rates of death. Severe trauma causes a decrease in the factors within the blood that helps clots to form and stop bleeding. This loss of clotting factors is associated with worse outcomes and it is proposed that early replacement of these factors may reduce bleeding and improve outcomes. Fibrinogen is one of the key clotting factors that needs 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 stored in powder form, can be reconstituted at the bedside and given quickly. The study will investigate whether it is quicker to administer FC than cryoprecipitate, which will reduce haemorrhage and improve outcomes. With positive impact for both large urban metropolitan areas and remote isolated communities.READ MORE
Doctors frequently need to order blood tests in the Emergency Department when patients come to hospital with a medical or surgical emergency. In all but the most trivial cases, laboratory blood tests are requested as part of the diagnostic workup. Doctors and even the patient are often concerned about missing a diagnosis if enough blood tests are not done. However, medical research worldwide has revealed that test ordering is excessive and often unnecessary.
The growth in test ordering places an enormous financial strain on our health care system, and includes unnecessary investigations or treatment. Thus, reducing the number of unnecessary tests is important for patients to avoid undue discomfort and worry, and for the hospital to improve work efficiency and reduce costs.
Health care professionals have, therefore, worked out various ways to ensure tests are ordered only when needed. These have included education of junior medical staff, protocols for ordering tests, audits of tests ordered, and feedback of audits to staff. These methods have been successful in reducing test ordering in the short-term, but sustaining a long-term reduction is more difficult.
Queensland Hospital Emergency Departments have implemented methods to reduce excessive test ordering, but it is not known which method is most effective. The aim of this study is to determine maximum efficacy, by comparing the number of tests ordered in four of the busiest Emergency Departments in the state. Specifically we will compare the average number of blood tests ordered per patient treated in the Emergency Department taking into account their age, severity of their illness, and whether or not they were admitted to hospital.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
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