Injury and trauma are common presentations to Queensland Emergency Departments. Clinicians caring for trauma victims must maintain competency with trauma procedures and interventions to apply them in a time-critical context, accurately, and therefore achieve the best outcome for individual patients. Engagement with traditional educational approaches, such as face-to-face training, is challenged by workload, shift patterns, clinician location and lack of opportunity to attend dedicated training events. A previous learning needs analysis of trauma education programs has highlighted that the greatest challenges are often faced by clinicians in rural and remote locations. One solution is to include the use of online learning platforms, to connect and assess clinician knowledge, with positive feedback regarding the engagement and experience for the learner. This study aims to use high-fidelity interactive online education, using a range of technologies including 360 videos with user interaction capabilities to design and develop a scalable model for future-proofing trauma education across Queensland. The research will test the effectiveness of (1) the approach to design and development in terms of scalability and (2) the online resources and assessment procedures in terms of the impact on knowledge and skill development.READ MORE
We propose to conduct a multi-centre blinded cluster cross over randomised clinical trial (RCT) of plasmalyte (PL), a balanced salt solution versus normal saline (NS) in patients admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening complication of diabetes mellitus. DKA results in elevated acid levels in the blood leading to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
ICU admission rates for patients with DKA in Australia has risen annually. In 2019 and 2020, there were 2751 and 2812 admissions to ICUs respectively. Almost all patients present through the Emergency Departments and in regional hospitals, they are often admitted to the ICU.
NS is often used as the first line fluid for dehydration, but NS use frequently results in persistent acidosis. We have shown in a pilot trial, conducted in 7 Queensland regional Emergency departments and ICUs, that the use of a balanced salt solution such as PL resulted in a more rapid resolution of acidosis with trends to shorter length of ICU and hospital stay as compared to NS. The efficacy of PL in DKA needs evaluation in a large clinical trial.
We plan to study 480 patients from Australia of whom a third will be expected to be enrolled in Queensland. Patients will be randomised to receive either NS or PL and the primary end point is hospital length of stay. This proposed trial will answer a fundamental clinical question and will inform policy and practice in Australia and New Zealand and around the world.READ MORE
There have been significant increases in system pressure for unscheduled public healthcare in Australia. Likewise, ambulance services have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for services along with a change in ambulance utilization. These pressures affect all aspects of patient flow, from triple zero call through to hospital admission and discharge. Improvements in the integration of prehospital services into the healthcare system can reduce time delays at their interface. Triage and clinical deterioration tools guide clinicians' decisions when directing patients to clinical streams within the emergency department whilst balancing patient safety. Paramedics are highly trained clinicians, that are well placed to assess and determine a patient’s clinical priority and potential for deterioration. If paramedics can demonstrate their application of validated triage and clinical deterioration tools to efficiently and safely direct patients to the most appropriate facility and/or clinical stream within a facility, then there would be potential time savings across the system. Furthermore, this would provide a validated tool to identify patients that are safe to be referred to the virtual emergency department. This study proposes to assess paramedics' ability to apply triage and clinical deterioration tools to identify the clinical stream either within an emergency department or via the virtual emergency department. If successful, this process could improve patient safety while reducing delays at the ambulance and emergency department interface.READ MORE
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (A&TSI) people presenting emergency departments are more likely to experience difficulty in communicating with healthcare providers, feel isolated, and experience shame and distress. These feelings lead to them leaving before they have been seen, or leaving before their treatment is completed, and they experience poorer health outcomes. Cultural safety is the ability of an organisation to meet the cultural needs of a group of people, and improved emergency department cultural safety has been shown to reduce rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leaving without being treated or before their treatment is completed. The 15 Steps Challenge Toolkit was developed in the NHS and is effective in assisting healthcare providers to see a clinical space “through the eyes of consumers”. This project aims to adapt the NHS 15 Steps Challenge toolkit to make it relevant to the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples using co-design methodology based on the “Yerin Dilly” model, which outlines values and processes to make research culturally safe. The project will be conducted in three phases to develop, trial and evaluate the Deadly Steps process. It will use both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to evaluate the process. The impacts of this project will be an improved process for evaluating and identifying opportunities to improve cultural safety, new cultural safety educational materials for healthcare providers, and improved experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people attending emergency departments in the Redcliffe, Caboolture, Sunshine Coast University, and Nambour hospitals.READ MORE
Shock is an umbrella description for poor blood supply to vital organs, and can lead to multi-organ failure and death. Emergency department (ED) patients with shock are amongst the sickest, with 1/3 being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). Low blood pressure, a key feature of shock which causes the poor blood supply to vital organs, can be treated with medications called vasopressors. Vasopressors traditionally have been given through a so-called 'central line'. Central lines are invasive to insert and require skill, and the actual insertion can lead to complications. More evidence has emerged that so-called peripheral lines (aka 'drip') are safe for vasopressor infusion. Randomised controlled trials (RCT) to compare the two strategies will provide high quality data to inform clinicians as to which approach is best for patients, staff and the healthcare budget. We propose a feasibility RCT to test processes and inform a large phase-III RCT to definitively answer this question.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
This study aims to improve our understanding of sepsis in Australian Emergency Departments. We will do this by analysing in great detail the spectrum of infection syndromes presenting to the Emergency Department of a typical large Australian hospital over a period of several years. This will allow us to:
1) Identify the number of patients presenting to hospitals each year with severe infections and the outcome of these presentations.
2) Analyse the factors and information available to doctors in the Emergency Department that are associated with overall prognosis in patients with infection.
3) Build a comprehensive picture of the spectrum of infective agents that cause patients to be admitted to Australian hospitals.
4) Identify the most appropriate combination of antibiotics which should be used in the early treatment of the most severely ill patients with infection.
The cornerstone of this project is a large database which will capture detailed information on all patients presenting to the Emergency Department of a typical large Australian hospital who are subsequently admitted with infection.READ MORE
Children present to emergency departments (EDs) with injuries that require painful procedures such as straightening broken bones and suturing cuts. Medicines used for these procedures include midazolam (a sleeping medicine), nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and morphine (pain killer) as well as many others. Ketamine is one medicine that combines pain relief and sedation. Ketamine is very safe and has been used in millions of procedures around the world. Children when they wake up after ketamine may be agitated or feel like vomiting. Ketamine can raise blood pressure and some situations it should not be used. Ketamine is Australia’s preferred sedative for children in EDs. Perhaps we can improve on ketamine by using different dosing methods or mixing with other medicines.
Propofol is another medicine used to deeply sedate children. In large amounts it will interfere with breathing and lower blood pressure, so it needs to be given in the right place and at the right time. Propofol’s main advantage is that it is much faster to work than ketamine and its effects wear off very fast. Interestingly when propofol is given with ketamine they may balance each other’s side effects; keeping blood pressure even, providing relaxation, reducing vomiting. Since propofol recovery is faster than ketamine, children may wake up sooner.
Emergency doctors have been mixing ketamine and propofol together and calling this combination “ketofol” and find it very effective in adults. Some give ketamine and then propofol, although how much is required is not clear. A number of emergency doctors prefer to give ketamine alone and treat side effects if they occur.
Infections, particularly serious infections leading to sepsis, cost the Australian healthcare system millions of dollars every year and impose a significant burden of illness on the Australian community. Serious infections also have the capacity to cause tragedy at a much more personal level, with lethal outcomes possible even in young healthy individuals. Despite the significant consequences of these illnesses, we have very limited information about the best way to identify and treat infection in Emergency Departments. Therefore, research that provides more information is vital.
We are conducting a ground breaking body of research to improve our understanding of infection in Australian Emergency Departments. We will conduct a group of studies focusing on early identification and treatment of infection. Specifically, four studies will be conducted across two hospitals. The first will identify the types of historical and clinical information available to doctors during the early stages of assessment that predicts whether an individual is likely to become very ill with infection. Identifying these patients at risk of progression to severe illness can be difficult, and is important because certain potentially life-saving treatments are most effective when given early. The second study will identify the types of bacteria that cause infection in our community. The third study will examine the potential beneficial effect of a commonly prescribed class of cholesterol-lowering drugs (“statins”) on patients admitted with infection. Finally, in the fourth study we will develop an antibiotic order set that covers the major bacteria causing severe infections. This will enable earlier effective treatment of seriously ill patients. These studies are the first of their kind conducted in Australia and will ultimately enable doctors to identify and treat severe infection earlier.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