Results for The Townsville Hospital


Implementation of Nasal High Flow: A Remote Context

In this study, the clinician-researchers are exploring whether nasal high flow (NHF) therapy can be safely and effectively used to improve health outcomes for infants with bronchiolitis in isolated remote communities, in particular for remote Indigenous Australians who have a higher incidence rate of bronchiolitis than non-Indigenous Australians. There is a desire by clinicians to implement NHF in remote areas, but this should undergo similar scientific scrutiny as previous published data.

NHF is a respiratory support system that provides support for people with respiratory conditions and is applied by high flow oxygen through nasal prongs. The therapy can avoid an escalation of care during hospitalisation. The safety of NHF has been widely studied in tertiary areas and regional hospitals, however, there is a lack of evidence to support safe use in remote settings.

In this study, the researchers are employing a two-phased approach: Firstly, an expert working party establishing agreed safe clinical boundaries for the NHF implementation and utilising expert viewpoints for implementation when managing infants with bronchiolitis. Secondly, a comparison of the outcomes before and after implementation to observe a reduction in escalation of care leading to reduced transfers. A community engagement process, with the focus to keep community members in their country/home environment, will be established to measure psychological, social-emotional and economic benefits of NHF.

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Emergency Examination Authorities and their impacts on North Queensland Hospitals

Emergency Departments (EDs) receive persons suffering major disturbances in their mental capacities, detained and transported by police or ambulance. The Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) (‘PHA’) – amended and in force 5 March 2017 – requires police and ambulance officers to make out an Emergency Examination Authority (EEA) at handover.1 Previously, Emergency Examination Orders (EEOs) were made out under Queensland’s Mental Health Act 2000 (‘MHA’). At handover, police and ambulance officers must make out an EEA. From handover at the ED, the PHA prescribes specific responsibilities, e.g. a doctor or health practitioner must explain to the person that they may be detained for 6-12 hours, the ED Director can order their forced return if they abscond and must take reasonable steps to return patients to a place requested.

Using qualitative and quantitative information the study focuses on the time and personnel resources required to investigate how EDs in north Queensland have responded.

No study has assessed the impacts on Queensland EDs of increasing numbers of mental health related presentations in light of legislative changes governing emergency assessment

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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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How are we treating severe childhood asthma in Australasia?

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.

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Kids THRIVE

When a child presents to an emergency department, or is admitted to the intensive care unit because of a life-threatening condition, they may need immediate treatment to support their breathing. In these circumstances a child is given medication to put them to sleep and the airway is secured with the insertion of a tube into the windpipe. This transition from spontaneous breathing when a child is awake to controlled respiration under anaesthetic via a breathing tube is called intubation. This procedure is technically challenging and is often associated with low oxygen levels in children.

New methods of intubation which reduce the risk of oxygen levels becoming low are continually developed and safely tested through clinical trials. The Trans-nasal Humidified Rapid Insufflation Ventilatory Exchange in children requiring emergency intubation (Kids THRIVE) is one of these clinical trials. In this study, we investigated a new approach to prevent a drop in oxygen levels during intubation using high flow oxygen delivery. We tested this method in children with healthy lungs undergoing anaesthesia for elective surgery and we found that we can maintain oxygen levels more than twice as long as using standard intubation methods. These findings would allow the operator in emergency settings more time and a safer condition to secure the airway in a sick child.

By comparing the current standard practice for intubating a child in an emergency situation, we aim to demonstrate that the THRIVE method will reduce the risk for low oxygen levels in the blood and increase the likelihood that the treating doctor is able to insert the breathing tube on the first attempt.

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FEISTY – Fibrinogen Early In Severe Trauma study

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.

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Comparison of the Implementation of Interventions for Controlling Laboratory Blood Tests Ordering in Four Queensland Teaching Hospital Emergency Departments.

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.

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Examining Sepsis in the Emergency Department

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.

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Australia, Asia and New Zealand Dyspnoea in Emergency Departments Study

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.

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Sedation for Acute Agitation in Emergency Department Patients: Targeting Adverse Events (SIESTA)

Acutely agitated patients are commonly seen in the emergency department (ED). As these patients may cause harm to themselves or others, a large proportion need to be managed with injectable sedative medications such as benzodiazepines (eg midazlolam) and/ or antipsychotics (e.g droperidol).

Unfortunately, these medications may precipitate life threatening events (e.g hypoventilation). Safety data related to the use of these medications for the management of acute agitation in the ED setting are scant. Acute agitation in the ED setting is usually caused by mental health issues or substance abuse, again little is known about which sedative medications are best suited for different groups of acutely agitated patients.

The aim of this study is to determine the nature and incidence of adverse events associated with parenteral sedation medication administered to acutely agitated patients in the ED and to determine the risk factors for these adverse events. It is a multicentre national observational study, aiming to recruit 2000 patients over the age of 18, over a 2 year period. It is hoped that the evidence this study generates will define the risk of AE in this population and may guide clinicians in future treatment choices in sedating this challenging group of patients, hopefully reducing future AE.

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Transforming Emergency Healthcare

EMF funding is improving emergency care for the elderly

Trauma: better treatment for severe bleeding

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2020 – 2021 Annual Report now available online

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