Fostering trauma care research in rural and remote Queensland

This article first appeared in Issue 83 of Partyline magazine, published by the National Rural Health Alliance. Visit their website to read the original, and more from the Partyline publication. 

13 June 2023

For the past two years, Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF), in partnership with the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC), has delivered research funding for projects specifically addressing trauma care across rural Queensland.

The Special Research Grants Program – Trauma Care in Regional, Rural and Remote Queensland (Trauma Care grants) – funds clinician-led research in emergency trauma medicine in areas where life-saving treatment is often hampered by distance and limited resources.

MAIC Insurance Commissioner Neil Singleton said Queensland’s geographic spread highlighted the need for a dedicated stream of funding for trauma care research.

‘It is critical that emergency teams in rural and remote areas are equipped and empowered to explore improvements in local clinical care so patients can be treated close to home, reducing transport costs and, above all, saving lives.

‘MAIC is proud to be working with EMF in supporting these important clinician-led research projects to enhance clinician expertise and improve patient care and outcomes,’ Mr Singleton said.

Dr Clinton Gibbs, Clinical Director of Research and Evaluation at Retrieval Services Queensland (RSQ), champions research in pre-hospital and retrieval medicine (PHRM). He has received EMF/MAIC Trauma Care grants for two separate research projects addressing traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in rural and remote areas.

‘Rural and remote clinicians are best placed to understand the needs of their patients and ensure any projects completed will benefit these communities.

‘As all clinicians experience, there is limited time within our clinical workload to complete research. The grants I have received from EMF/MAIC have been invaluable in supporting research to occur in PHRM in Queensland by providing funded capacity, without which most projects would not have occurred,’ said Dr Gibbs.

In collaboration with the Jamieson Trauma Institute and Queensland University of Technology, Dr Gibbs’ first study is piloting the use of the injury Treatment and Rehabilitation Accessibility Queensland Index (iTRAQI) for road trauma TBI patients in rural and remote areas.

iTRAQI maps the ideal clinical retrieval pathway for each patient for acute neurosurgical and rehabilitation services. It is also being trialed for use in establishing opportunities for optimising care and identifying regions of high demand to better target treatment, outreach and education services.

Dr Gibbs received funding in Round 2 of the Trauma Care grants program earlier this year, for his study into whether some rural and remote patients with minor traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) from road accidents are being unnecessarily transported to major hospitals for CT scans.

Many mTBI patients either return normal CT scans or do not receive a scan at all after transfer. Researchers from RSQ, the Queensland Ambulance Service and Townsville University Hospital are looking at historical patient data to assess whether ‘low-value’ mTBI transfers can be safely avoided, thus reducing burden on patients, their families and the healthcare system.

‘This will have immense personal and financial benefits to the people of rural and remote Queensland, as well as beneficial impacts on the state’s road ambulance and aeromedical network.

‘Reducing transfers will also assist the ongoing access block issues continuing to plague Queensland’s emergency departments,’ Dr Gibbs said.

Applications are now open for Round 3 of the EMF Trauma Care in Regional, Rural and Remote Queensland grants.

A total of $100,000 is available in the funding pool for individual research projects, with applications open to all clinicians (medical, nursing, paramedicine, allied health and rural generalist) providing emergency care to trauma patients in pre-hospital, retrieval and public emergency department settings in regional, rural or remote Queensland.

For the first time, scholarship opportunities will be offered in Round 3 for clinicians with no prior research experience to attend a university course in emergency healthcare research training.

Visit the Trauma Care in Regional, Rural and Remote Queensland grants page for more information.

EMF thanks the Motor Accident Insurance Commission for funding this program.


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