Results for Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital


Modelling emergency department patient flow under normal operating conditions and in a pandemic

Patient flow in emergency departments (ED) is impeded when the number of patients exceed physical and/or staffing capacity. This is often referred to as crowding, and is common problem for EDs across the country, adversely impacting patients, staff and the healthcare system.

While many strategies have been reported and trialled to mitigate the consequences of crowding and address its causes, there is no one solution that fits all EDs.

Researchers propose to develop and test a computer model to mimic the ED, simulating patient flow to provide forecasts that can inform policy makers. This is especially important in periods of anticipated high demand for emergency services such as in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Emergency doctors will team-up with academic researchers to model patient flow in the emergency department to consider operational changes and provide knowledge to guide decision-making for improvement strategies that will lead to faster, more effective patient care, better outcomes and more effective, economical choices.

This innovative collaboration between doctors and university researchers aims to solve real-life system-level problems affecting patient care. The research will generate practical outcomes that improve clinical practice at a system level so that we can better care for our patients.

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The COVERED COVID study: Comprehensive Outcomes that VERify the impact on EDs from COVID-19

Reports worldwide indicate there has been a change in the cohort of patients seen within hospital emergency departments (EDs) during COVID-19, with fewer presentations for non-COVID symptoms, such as chest pain.

This study will evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on Queensland EDs by reviewing the number and nature of patient presentations, and generate a comprehensive statewide evidence-base to understand and manage patients who require emergency care during a global pandemic. It is expected that results will inform future management strategies and guiding documents generated in the event of a ‘second wave’, or other large scale disaster.

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Coronary Artery Disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die from heart attacks at younger ages than non-indigenous Australians. The factors that increase risk of death from heart attack in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are unknown.

Most patients who present to an Emergency Department (ED) with chest pain do not have a heart problem but all are assessed for their risk of having a life-threatening cause, such as heart attack. The level of risk determines which tests are performed so that a final diagnosis can be obtained as quickly as possible. Due to the lack of knowledge about risk factors in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population there is uncertainty about how best to use chest pain risk assessments in indigenous patients.

In this study, we will determine the rate of coronary artery disease (a hardening of arteries and the underlying cause of heart attacks) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who present to the ED with chest pain. We will also compare the characteristics of patients who do and do not have heart attacks to identify potential risk factors for heart attack in this population.

The findings from this study will: 1) allow ED doctors to determine a baseline level of risk of heart attack for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient population, and 2) provide preliminary information necessary for the design of large-scale research studies with the goal of determining specific risk factors for heart attack in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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Understanding end-of-life care for older people presenting to the ED

The overarching aim of this study is to estimate the magnitude of the need for care at the end of life care in the emergency department, and to describe care delivery practices, processes and outcomes for older people who present to the emergency department requiring end of life care.
Australians aged 65 years and over account for 22% of emergency department presentations. Currently, this group makes up 15% of the population, but this predicted to rise to 20% by 2037.

There are two trajectories of end of life in the emergency department: ‘unexpected’ and ‘expected’ deaths. Unexpected deaths stem from acute illness or sudden, traumatic events. Expected deaths stem from deterioration of chronic illnesses.
When expected deaths occur in the emergency department, staff dissatisfaction and distress as well as frustration for patients and their families can result. In Singapore, around 50% of deaths in people aged ≥ 65 who died in one emergency department were considered ‘expected’. This highlights the need to understand if the situation is the same here in Australia and to what extent quality end of life care is provided for both trajectories of dying (i.e. expected and unexpected). Our study will identify the ‘unexpected’ and the ‘expected’ deaths among people aged ≥ 65 who die within 48 hours of emergency department presentation.

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Reaction of Emergency Services uPON Disasters in Queensland

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.

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Clinician decision making in peripheral intravenous cannulation in emergency settings

Peripheral intravenous cannulation (PIVC) is a vital part of modern medicine, however the use of cannulas has become prolific, with many never used. The patient risks that are associated with PIVC are well documented, including pain and even infections, which can be severe and lead to death.

PIVCs which are inserted but never used (idle PIVC), have risks and downsides, but no potential benefits. Reducing the rate of idle PIVC may reduce the overall rate of risks, side-effects and infections associated with PIVC, but may also lead to patients who require PIVC not receiving one.

This study will look into the reasons why clinicians decide to insert a PIVC. Researchers aim to describe: I) the proportion of PIVCs placed that do not get used within 24 hours (idle PIVCs), II) differences between the pre-hospital setting and the emergency department and III) the factors associated with clinicians’ decision making regarding PIVC insertion.

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Improving the care of skin infections in the Torres Straits

This research project is looking at cellulitis in the Torres Straits. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin that requires antibiotics. People with cellulitis usually have an area of red and hot skin and sometimes can have fevers and become really unwell. Germs called Staphylococus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes typically cause cellulitis. It potentially can cause serious infections and are a common presentation to emergency departments and admission to hospital.

In a tropical environment such as the Torres Strait cellulitis is extremely common and contributes to a significant burden on the healthcare system. Often patients present to health care facilities in the Torres Strait with cellulitis and are transported into Thursday Island Hospital for intravenous antibiotics. This is associated with significant retrieval, emergency and hospital costs. However the treatment of cellulitis in the community has been found to be practical, safe, and cost effective. We want to find out if cellulitis can be treated at home instead of in the hospital here in the Torres Straits.

The aim of this study is to validate outpatient intravenous antibiotic management of cellulitis in the Torres Straits. We anticipate that results from this study will improve preventable emergency and hospital admissions thus having significant health economic savings here in the Torres Straits.

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Fibrinogen Early In Severe Trauma studY II (FEISTY II)

In a severe trauma, major bleeding or haemorrhaging is associated significant morbidity and mortality. Haemorrhage can be compounded by Trauma Induced Coagulopathy. It is postulated that early replacement of low fibrinogen levels may reduce haemorrhage and improve outcomes. Fibrinogen concentrate is an alternative way to replace fibrinogen.

In the FEISTY pilot trial, we demonstrated that a guided fibrinogen replacement strategy utilising either fibrinogen concentrate or cryoprecipitate is feasible. We found that fibrinogen concentrate was significantly faster to administer. The follow-on FEISTY II Trial will evaluate relevant patient-centred endpoints of a guided dose of FC Vs cryoprecipitate in traumatic haemorrhage. This larger study builds on the success of FEISTY to include multiple trauma centres in Australia and overseas.

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Fluid resuscitation in emergency patients with sepsis and hypotension (ARISE Fluids)

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.

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Fibrinogen Early In Severe Trauma in children studY (FEISTY Junior)

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.

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Improving jellyfish sting treatment

EMF funding is improving emergency care for the elderly

Trauma: better treatment for severe bleeding

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