Emergency department (ED) waiting times are a significant predictor of the patient experience.
Simple prediction methods, such as rolling average, are used by hospitals in Australia to predict waiting time for patients. Although this approach is inexpensive to implement, the forecasts have limited accuracy and consequently most Australian hospital EDs do not report expected waiting times to the public.
A solution that is capable of sourcing data from ED information systems and feed it into prediction models to generate waiting time forecasts would bring practical benefits for staff and patients. There is also potential to assist clinicians and nurses to estimate demand for care and calibrate workflow.
For patients, the knowledge may reduce anxiety associated with uncertainty about the waiting time and reduce the number of patients who leave before treatment.
This project aims to use advanced statistical models and machine-learning algorithms to capture dynamic fluctuations in waiting time, to implement and validate the prediction performance of these models. The project will also build ED research capacity by educating staff on forecast modelling and data management techniques.READ MORE
Australia is five years behind the US’ opioid epidemic (>15,000 US deaths/year). General Practitioners and EDs frequently prescribe opioids for isolated musculoskeletal pain (e.g. “whiplash”) from RTCs, but this potentially inappropriate opioid prescribing likely leads to unnecessary opioid exposures. In the last decade, opioid overdoses in Australia have more than doubled. 75% of opioid overdose deaths involve prescription opioids; annual death rates exceed road traffic deaths.
Emergency Departments (EDs) commonly prescribe opioids on discharge for patients with non-serious road traffic crash (RTC) injury. This potentially compromises recovery and contributes to continued opioid use and potential misuse in the community.
The project will address the gap on whether, or for how long, short courses of opioids are continued following acute non-serious RTC injury, and to what extent this causes subsequent problems, by measuring patterns of use, impacts, and costs of opioid use in EDs and following discharge over a 12-month period.
The project will provide the first Australian data on opioid prescribing in ED for acute minor RTC injuries and link ED data to community data to explore longitudinal prescribing patterns post RTC.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
Our study aims to test whether a mindfulness program delivered by a smartphone app can reduce occupational stress levels among Emergency Department (ED) staff. This study will recruit staff at two regional EDs. Staff will practice short session mindfulness daily, for four weeks, using a smartphone meditation app. The study will determine if, by using the app, staff levels of occupational stress are reduced and overall wellness increased. The levels of stress reduction will be compared before and after the intervention.
Working in an ED can be stressful. It has been suggested that up to half ED doctors and nurses may suffer from burnout due to high workload, overcrowding and limited resources. Staff stress and its negative consequence pose challenging issues to both individual clinicians and healthcare organisations. Sub-optimal wellness of staff is closely associated with poor patient care, more medical incidents and a high staff turnover rate. One way to reduce staff stress levels is by promoting staff coping skills and wellness. Mindfulness is a mental technique to focus self-awareness at the present moment and non-judgmentally. It has been used widely to promote staff workplace wellness. Smartphone apps are a relatively new delivery method for mindfulness that has not yet been tested among ED staff.READ MORE
Queensland is known for its ability to attract mass gathering events of international significance, such as the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2032 Olympic Games. Such events have the potential to impact the normal operational capacity of our emergency health services.
The objective of this study is to describe the impact of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the emergency departments in the Gold Coast region. This research has two key aims, which align with two discrete but related studies:
Study 1 Aim: To describe and determine whether changes in patient, health service, and economic outcomes occur before, during and after the Commonwealth Games.
Study 2 Aim: To explore healthcare staff experience of planning, preparedness and lessons learnt from the Commonwealth Games.
Patient health records contain a significant amount of information through each episode of care provided at a healthcare facility. However, due to the unstructured nature of the clinical information in each record, the clinical data is not readily accessible for research or administrative use unless an expensive and time-consuming manual process is used. Methods of data extraction through various algorithms are available but require training and testing a dataset of annotated health records.
To address this issue, my key aim is to generate structured clinical data from previously inaccessible and unstructured electronic records. I am attempting to develop a process of automatically extracting clinical data from electronic records of patients who present with chest pain to emergency departments in Queensland. The clinical data extracted will be composed of the documented cardiac risk stratification for each patient and major adverse cardiac events.
To develop this data extraction process, an annotation scheme was designed using a widely accepted standardized reporting guideline. Using the annotation scheme, emergency clinicians annotate patient records to produce an annotated dataset for both training and testing machine learning algorithms.READ MORE
Patients presenting to the Princess Alexandra Hospital Emergency Department with dermatological conditions present a significant demand on resources. It is estimated that in many Emergency Departments (ED) at least one in 25 patients present with a skin condition. Many dermatological presentations may be better managed in an alternative environment either because they are non-urgent or require more specialised and expert care. This project aims to better understand the presentation of skin conditions to a large adult Queensland ED. The research will describe the current diagnosis and management of this cohort to the ED, assess the resource implications and understand the rationale for the patients attending ED instead of a General Practice clinic. The data will provide the information for determining the need for increased GP support such a expansion of tele-dermatology services or for the creation of a local or district acute dermatology clinic.READ MORE
In Australia, medication errors result in more than 400,000 visits to general practitioners per year, however the number of patients who present to hospital due to medication-related harm is unclear.
Previous Australian and international research suggests that at least 2% of emergency department (ED) presentations are due to medication-related harm and up to one quarter of those patients require admission to hospital. Importantly, the majority of such presentations are potentially preventable, which means that interventions that target medication safety in the community and adverse events that result in ED presentations could improve patient safety and quality of life, and reduce the burden on emergency and acute health services.
Before we can target strategies designed to reduce medication-related harm in the community that results in patients requiring care in the ED, we need to understand how commonly this occurs, and which patients are at higher risk of possible harm. In this study we will determine how common this problem is, the characteristics of the events and the patients in whom medication-related harm occurs, and also estimate the health service costs of medication-related ED presentations.READ MORE
After whiplash injury, half of patients never fully recover. The human and economic cost is enormous, and current mainstay treatments are ineffective. Most recovery, if it occurs, takes place in the first two to three months. This early time period offers a ‘window of opportunity’ to pro-actively intervene and prevent the chronic pain. The Emergency Department (ED) is ideally placed to provide very early intervention. We have shown that upregulation of pain in the central nervous system occurs soon after whiplash injury and predicts poor recovery. We aim to target these central nervous system processes with pregabalin in conjunction with evidence based physiotherapy advice/exercise in the ED. The results have potential to fundamentally change the treatment of acute whiplash injury.READ MORE
Paracetamol is the commonest medications taken in overdose and is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the developed world. The antidote, acetylcysteine, which replenishes liver glutathione was developed in the 1970’s. However the regimen (20 hours duration) was never subjected to either a randomised controlled trial or any dose ranging studies. The regimen gives a large loading dose and the remainder of the infusion (20 hours) is given to mirror the time taken for paracetamol to be cleared by the liver. This time is only an average and depends on the degree of liver damage. For normal livers it is much shorter (12 hours).
The aim of the study is to compare acetylcysteine given over 20 hours compared to 12 hours for patients presenting early with paracetamol overdose to see if it provides the same protection against liver damage. The research design will be a multicentre non inferiority per protocol unblinded randomised controlled trial of a 20 hour versus a 12 hour regimen of acetylcysteine in paracetamol overdose. The study will be undertaken at the Princes Alexandra, Calvary Mater Newcastle and Prince of Wales hospitals. Eligible patients will be paracetamol overdoses less than 30g presenting within 8 hours of ingestion.READ MORE