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.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 devastating infection, leading to organ dysfunction. Sepsis kills more children in Australia than road traffic accidents. One out of three survivors will suffer from long-term health problems. Faster recognition of sepsis can save lives. However, recognising sepsis in children can be difficult, as children with sepsis initially present with symptoms similar to common infections. Currently, the recognition of sepsis is based on physician assessment of patients, and laboratory tests. Sadly, a common finding in Coroner`s investigations of sepsis deaths is that parents represented several times to health-care facilities, stating their concerns that “something is wrong” with their child. There is at present great debate as to what role parental concern should have in sepsis recognition.
We hypothesise that parents as experts of their child provide important information to recognise disease severity in their child. We will perform questionnaires with parents, and with medical and nursing staff when a child is evaluated for sepsis. We will compare the value of measuring parental concern in comparison to healthcare worker assessment, clinical signs and symptoms, and routine infection markers.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
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
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
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