Lamotrigine is an antiepileptic medication used in the management of seizure disorders and bipolar affective disorder but is being increasingly prescribed for many off-label indications including emotionally unstable personality disorder.
In overdose lamotrigine usually causes mild to moderate toxicity, however following large poisonings life-threatening cardiac and neurological effects can occur. There is limited research to guide clinicians both in the assessment and management of lamotrigine poisoning.
This is a study observing people who have taken lamotrigine overdoses and will compare the concentration of lamotrigine in their blood with the clinical effects that occur. We want to be able to know what the lowest dose is that can cause severe toxicity and also if there are treatments that we can give which can help clear lamotrigine from a person’s system more quickly.
Knowing these answers can help us better recognise which patients will have severe toxicity and better manage those patients in an effort to reduce harm and death. It is expected the results of this study will be incorporated into Poison Information Centre and national guidelines of the management of lamotrigine poisoning.READ MORE
Most paediatric inter-facility transfers within Australia are for children that do not qualify for specialist paediatric retrieval services but still require access to specialised paediatric care not offered at the local healthcare facility.
Evidence-based transfer guidance for children requiring retrieval are well established. However, for children who do not meet retrieval criteria, there is little guidance for referring and accepting clinicians on how to coordinate safe transfer. Nurse escorts are often deployed but may not be trained sufficiently to deal with arising complications during transfer. Additionally, with the availability and scope of paramedics, the deployment of nurse escorts may not be required, and unecessarily deplete valuable resources at referring facilities.
A risk stratification tool has been developed to determine which non-urgent transfers require higher level consultation and management prior to and during transfer, and nursing escort. The validation of this tool may assist to accurately identify higher-risk children, enabling application of appropriate safeguards, an appropriate level of consultation and escort, and supporting clinician decision-making surrounding transport Australia-wide.READ MORE
Currently in Australia, children with suspected neck injuries undergo neck scans such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However these scans may carry risks from radiation exposure, and are often associated with discomfort and distress for young patients and the need for sedation.
Considerable emergency department time and costs are also associated with these scans and it is unclear when it can be safely avoided. Rules and tools can help doctors decide when scans are necessary. The SONIC study aims to look at whether existing rules for adults are also appropriate for use in children, and to develop and test a specific tool to help doctors decide which children need a neck x-ray or scan. The study will involve a large number of children across multiple hospitals in Australia and New Zealand. The research is expected to help researchers learn more about looking after children with neck injuries and hopefully allow us to safely limit the number of scans that need to be done.
The SONIC study is also supported by the Commonwealth of Australia through a MRFF Grant ID1199748 administered by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.READ MORE
This is a multicentre, open-labelled diagnostic randomised controlled trial to comparing the use of portable ultrasound and x-ray imaging to diagnose a buckle fracture in children. The trial will determine if there are differences in functional outcomes, patient and care-giver preferences, and health system benefits.
Children frequently present to the emergency department with forearm injuries and often have an x-ray to assess if there is a fracture. Due to the soft and plastic nature of the bones in young children, injuries can cause their bones to bend, known as a buckle fracture. Bedside ultrasound is a test that emergency practitioners can use to rapidly diagnose a fracture at the time of examination, without exposing children to ionising radiation. Ultrasound in this setting is well tolerated, only requiring light touch and gentle manipulation of the forearm and has similar accuracy when compared with x-rays for diagnosing children’s forearm fractures.
This is the first trial of its kind to assess whether an x-ray is unnecessary when there is either a buckle fracture or no fracture seen on a portable ultrasound machine. This is important as they can be treated at the time of review without any further delay, which will avoid these children being exposed to ionising radiation. Children will be randomised to receive either an ultrasound or x-ray for their forearm injury. Both groups will be followed up to see whether there are any differences in their recovery and to determine any complications. We will also determine the time and cost implications of this new approach, which could enable families to go home earlier and could be more cost-effective, with less x-rays being ordered.READ MORE
From a health perspective, a disaster overwhelms the normal operating capacity of a health service, where an outside health response is required to restore and maintain the normal day-to-day health services and standards of care for the disaster-affected community. The Australian healthcare system is tested annually with disasters of a conventional nature (e.g., floods, cyclones, bushfires), however, the Australian healthcare system has not been recently tested by non-conventional disasters such as Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and explosive (CBRNe) disasters. As a result, the ability to determine the healthcare system response is difficult. Further, there is no research specific to the Australian emergency department’s capacity for disaster response in CBRNe events.
This study addresses this gap. We will use a mixed methods approach to undertake two discrete, yet related studies. Study 1 involves undertaking surveys with key emergency disaster personnel from seven Queensland hospitals to describe the capacity of hospital emergency care services ability to respond following a CBRNe disaster. Study 2 includes undertaking focus groups with key clinicians and leaders from the participating sites to identify and explore enablers and barriers within emergency care services to provide CBRNe disaster response. Findings from these studies will provide an evidence base regarding the capacity for several Queensland emergency departments, located in metropolitan, regional and rural settings, to respond to disasters.READ MORE
Sepsis is a leading cause of death and disability in children, globally accounting for more than one million childhood deaths per year. Recommended sepsis treatment currently consists of intravenous antibiotics and aggressive fluid boluses followed by inotropes and consideration for intravenous steroids. However, the evidence for interventions other than antibiotics is limited and aggressive fluid administration may be associated with harm. Therefore, fluid-sparing algorithms using early inotropes to treat shock have been proposed. Another strategy to hasten shock resolution consists in intravenous steroids, alone or in combination with thiamine and vitamin C, postulated to support metabolic dysfunction in recent studies.
In this project, the research team is conducting a randomised controlled pilot trial in children presenting with septic shock. They are assessing the feasibility of a fluid-sparing algorithm using early inotropes and early intravenous administration of Vitamin C, Thiamine and Hydrocortisone and the impact on survival free of organ dysfunction.READ MORE
Most children with asthma presenting to an emergency department (ED) are managed with inhaled medications and oral steroids. Infrequently, those children that are very unwell may 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. It is not known which is most effective and all have side-effects. Studies demonstrate significant variation in practice, while existing Australasian data is approximately 10 years old.
This project aims to determine current management practices for children with severe acute asthma and/or wheeze; how common the condition is, how frequently complications occur; and to understand differences in therapy between states and regions across Australia and New Zealand. When comparing treatments, it is important to determine the ability to reduce the risk of severe complications, or the difference in treatment outcomes. Once complete, this project will inform future research that will help to establish the best treatments for severe asthma.
This study is being run by the PREDICT network and its Chief Investigator is A/Prof Simon Craig. The EMF is funding Queensland sites taking part. The overall study will include 18,000 children aged between 1 and 18 years being treated for asthma in the ED.READ MORE
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
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
Convulsive Status Epilepticus (CSE) is the most common childhood neurological emergency, sometimes resulting in death or serious disability. CSE is managed with anticonvulsant medications in a step-wise approach until seizures stop. While some management strategies for CSE are well supported by evidence (e.g. initial administration of benzodiazepines), subsequent strategies are based on expert consensus and not evidence. Phenytoin, the traditional second line agent for CSE has a high failure rate, causes adverse events and must be administered slowly. Levetiracetam, a newer anticonvulsant, has a favourable adverse events profile, can be administered quickly and has good efficacy for various seizure types.
This research project proposes to undertake a randomised controlled trial of the second line anticonvulsants phenytoin and levetiracetam for CSE in children. This multi-centre study was a world first and is likely to have a profound impact on the management of CSE in children in New Zealand, Australia and worldwide, in either confirming the current second line medication used or recommending a newer second line medication.READ MORE