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1.  The effectiveness of telemedicine for paediatric retrieval consultations: rationale and study design for a pragmatic multicentre randomised controlled trial 
In many health systems, specialist services for critically ill children are typically regionalised or centralised. Studies have shown that high-risk paediatric patients have improved survival when managed in specialist centres and that volume of cases is a predictor of care quality. In acute cases where distance and time impede access to specialist care, clinical advice may be provided remotely by telephone. Emergency retrieval services, attended by medical and nursing staff may be used to transport patients to specialist centres. Even with the best quality retrieval services, stabilisation of the patient and transport logistics may delay evacuation to definitive care. Several studies have examined the use of telemedicine for providing specialist consultations for critically ill children. However, no studies have yet formally examined the clinical effectiveness and economic implications of using telemedicine in the context of paediatric patient retrieval.
The study is a pragmatic, multicentre randomised controlled trial running over 24 months which will compare the use of telemedicine with the use of the telephone for paediatric retrieval consultations between four referring hospitals and a tertiary paediatric intensive care unit. We aim to recruit 160 children for whom a specialist retrieval consultation is required. The primary outcome measure is stabilisation time (time spent on site at the referring hospital by the retrieval team) adjusted for initial risk. Secondary outcome measures are change in patient’s physiological status (repeated measure, two time points) scored using the Children’s Emergency Warning Tool; change in diagnosis (repeated measure taken at three time points); change in destination of retrieved patients at the tertiary hospital (general ward or paediatric intensive care unit); retrieval decision, and length of stay in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit for retrieved patients. The trial has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committees of Children’s Health Services Queensland and The University of Queensland, Australia.
Health services are adopting telemedicine, however formal evidence to support its use in paediatric acute care is limited. Generalisable evidence is required to inform clinical use and health system policy relating to the effectiveness and economic implications of the use in telemedicine in paediatric retrieval.
Trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000156886.
PMCID: PMC4232675  PMID: 25381774
Paediatrics; Paediatric intensive care; Paediatric critical care; Telemedicine; Transport
2.  Neonatal transfers by advanced neonatal nurse practitioners and paediatric registrars 
Objective: To evaluate the safety and practicality of using advanced neonatal nurse practitioners (ANNPs) to lead acute neonatal transfers.
Design: Comparison of transport times, transport interventions, and physiological variables, covering the first four complete years of operating a transport service that uses ANNPs and specialist paediatric registrars (SpRs) interchangeably.
Setting: Tertiary neonatal transport service.
Patients: The first 51 transfers of sick infants under 28 days of age by an ANNP led transport team into Nottingham compared with the next consecutive SpR led transfer after each ANNP led one.
Main outcome measures: Transport times; interventions and support given during stabilisation for transfer and during transfer; condition on completion of transfer, assessed from blood glucose, systolic blood pressure, pH, oxygenation, and temperature.
Results: The ANNP led team responded more rapidly to requests for transfer and took longer to stabilise babies. The groups undertook similar numbers of procedures during stabilisation, and there were no differences in the ventilatory and other support that infants needed in transit. The infants transferred by the doctor led group had worse values for pH (doctor led, 7.31 (6.50–7.46); ANNP led, 7.35 (7.04–7.50), p = 0.02) and PaO2 (doctor led, 6.7 (2.4–13.1); ANNP led, 8.7 (3.5–17.0); p = 0.008) before transfer (all values median (range)). Comparisons of the infant's condition before and after transfer showed a significant improvement in temperature for the infants transferred by ANNP led teams (36.8°C (34.0–37.8) v 37.0°C (34.6–38.0), p = 0.001) and in oxygen saturation (96% (88–100) v 98% (92–100), p = 0.01). There were no differences between the ANNP and doctor led groups in the values obtained for any variable after transfer.
Conclusions: Clinical condition on completion of transport is similar for babies transferred by ANNP and doctor led teams. ANNP led transport appears to be practical and safe.
PMCID: PMC1763224  PMID: 14602700
3.  Cost-Effectiveness of Rapid Syphilis Screening in Prenatal HIV Testing Programs in Haiti 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e183.
New rapid syphilis tests permit simple and immediate diagnosis and treatment at a single clinic visit. We compared the cost-effectiveness, projected health outcomes, and annual cost of screening pregnant women using a rapid syphilis test as part of scaled-up prenatal testing to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission in Haiti.
Methods and Findings
A decision analytic model simulated health outcomes and costs separately for pregnant women in rural and urban areas. We compared syphilis syndromic surveillance (rural standard of care), rapid plasma reagin test with results and treatment at 1-wk follow-up (urban standard of care), and a new rapid test with immediate results and treatment. Test performance data were from a World Health Organization–Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases field trial conducted at the GHESKIO Center Groupe Haitien d'Etude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infections Opportunistes in Port-au-Prince. Health outcomes were projected using historical data on prenatal syphilis treatment efficacy and included disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) of newborns, congenital syphilis cases, neonatal deaths, and stillbirths. Cost-effectiveness ratios are in US dollars/DALY from a societal perspective; annual costs are in US dollars from a payer perspective. Rapid testing with immediate treatment has a cost-effectiveness ratio of $6.83/DALY in rural settings and $9.95/DALY in urban settings. Results are sensitive to regional syphilis prevalence, rapid test sensitivity, and the return rate for follow-up visits. Integrating rapid syphilis testing into a scaled-up national HIV testing and prenatal care program would prevent 1,125 congenital syphilis cases and 1,223 stillbirths or neonatal deaths annually at a cost of $525,000.
In Haiti, integrating a new rapid syphilis test into prenatal care and HIV testing would prevent congenital syphilis cases and stillbirths, and is cost-effective. A similar approach may be beneficial in other resource-poor countries that are scaling up prenatal HIV testing.
Analyzing data from Haiti, Bruce Schackman and colleagues report that scale-up of prenatal HIV testing programs provides a cost-effective opportunity to prevent congenital syphilis through rapid testing.
Editors' Summary
Congenital syphilis (syphilis that is passed on from a woman infected with the disease to her unborn baby) is a major preventable public health problem. Around half of all pregnancies among women infected with syphilis result in stillbirth or death of the baby shortly after birth. However, it should be possible to reduce the health burden of congenital syphilis if infections among pregnant women could be quickly and accurately diagnosed. In resource-poor countries, many syphilis infections go undiagnosed, because the tests that are normally used involve sending samples away to a laboratory for processing. This means that the diagnosis can only be confirmed, and treatment started, at the next available visit. As a result, there is a delay in starting antibiotic treatment, and some women may never receive their intended treatment at all if they cannot return for their follow-up visit. However, new tests are available that don't involve cold storage of reagents or electrical equipment, and these can be used to give an immediate result about syphilis infection even in rural or resource-poor settings. Currently, global initiatives are underway to ensure many more pregnant women are tested for HIV and to reduce the risk of HIV being passed on from a woman to her baby. These initiatives could provide an important opportunity for carrying out widespread immediate screening for syphilis during pregnancy as well. Such screening might then help reduce infant deaths substantially.
Why Was This Study Done?
Field trials evaluating rapid syphilis tests have already been carried out by the World Health Organization's Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. One such trial, carried out in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, evaluated the success of three different rapid syphilis tests as compared to two “gold standard” tests (older tests that are generally considered reliable, but which don't give an immediate result). These researchers wanted to use data from these trials to compare costs and predicted health outcomes of including different types of syphilis screening as part of scaled-up prenatal care. Specifically, the researchers wanted to find out whether including rapid syphilis testing as part of universal prenatal care would be cost-effective and whether it would reduce the rate of stillbirths and congenital syphilis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
This research was based on data from the field trials previously carried out in Haiti. The data from these trials were used to create a model comparing three different strategies for screening pregnant women for syphilis infections. The three strategies were as follows: checking for the symptoms of syphilis (assumed to be the standard of care in rural areas); standard testing for antibody response to the syphilis bacterium, after which treatment can be provided at follow-up a week later (assumed to be the standard of care in urban areas); and, finally, rapid testing that gives an immediate result. For each strategy, the researchers predicted what the health outcomes would be. These outcomes are summarized in “disability-adjusted life years” (DALYs) that reflect the number of years of healthy life lost due to congenital syphilis among newborn babies, the number of stillbirths, and the number of neonatal deaths. Cost-effectiveness of each strategy was also worked out by dividing the additional costs of testing and treatment for each strategy by the number of DALYs avoided using that screening method compared to the next most expensive alternative. Under the model, urban and rural settings were looked at separately. Immediate testing was more expensive than either standard testing or checking for symptoms, but emerged as more cost-effective than standard testing in rural settings; the immediate test would cost an additional $7–$10 per disability-adjusted life year compared to the current rural or urban standard of care. The researchers predicted that if immediate syphilis testing were provided to all pregnant women in Haiti who currently have access to prenatal care, over 1,000 congenital syphilis cases would be avoided, along with over 1,000 stillbirths and neonatal deaths, at a yearly cost of $525,000.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This model suggests that including rapid syphilis testing as part of current global initiatives for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV could substantially reduce infant deaths. The strategy is also likely to be cost-effective.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on congenital syphilis
Information from the World Health Organization about congenital syphilis, including information about screening programs and new screening tests
A report is also available from the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases regarding rapid syphilis tests
AVERT, an international AIDS charity, provides information about preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV
PMCID: PMC1880854  PMID: 17535105
4.  Successful transitioning is a matter of the Heart: Integrated Care for Grown-Up Congenital Heart Disease 
This study offers a comprehensive overview over the existing guidelines for GUCH/ACHD care and synthesises the recommendations made over the past decade, developing them into an integrated care concept for GUCH/ACHD patients. Its aim is to emphasise the need for more coordinated action of paediatric and adult specialists, professional and patients organisations to lobby for a concerted implementation of the guidelines for GUCH/ACHD management and an organised transitioning process.
More than a decade ago, discussions picked up on the adequate management of a challenging new patient group: persons with ‘Grown-Up Congenital Heart Disease’ (GUCH), also known as ‘Adult Congenital Heart Disease’ (ACHD) in North America. The various authors acknowledged the demand for highly specialised and trained professionals who could provide the wide array of services needed for this patient group, with a systematic and multi-disciplinary approach. First experiences have already been gathered throughout the 1990s in Canada and the UK. Since then, the technological and medical advances in paediatric cardiology, cardiac surgery and related medical fields have improved the health outcomes even further, to the extent that 85%–95% of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) survive into adulthood. However, the efforts to implement the necessary managerial, transitioning and vocational training requirements have not been afforded equal focus.
Data sources
A literature review of the existing guidelines for the management of GUCH patients from national and international cardiology associations, expert interviews.
Case description
The key problem in the management of GUCH patients is a lack of understanding the importance of a coordinated transitioning process from paediatric to adult care services. Neither the paediatric nor the adult specialists have the proper training for the care of these patients, the former lacking experience with adult patients the latter not knowing the complex indication of congenital heart disease. In the different guidelines (e.g. from the American Heart Association or the European Society of Cardiology), it is acknowledged that cooperation and communication between specialists and settings and a managed transitioning process are paramount. In this case, the focus is laid on developing an integrated care model based on the existing medical guidelines and the requirements a transition process demands. Adolescents with CHD and their parents need to be prepared to adapt to the demands of an adult life. They need information on working and educational options, family planning, and what complications may be expected. Also, the adolescents need to learn to take over the responsibility for their own life and health—independent of their parents. These are just the most pressing of the challenges GUCH patients face.
(Preliminary) conclusions
Even though specialised GUCH/ACHD centres exist in many countries, they are too few in numbers to effectively and adequately service the whole population and provide high quality training. A lack of coordination and communication between paediatric and adult health care service providers results in patients being lost in transition from paediatric to adult care settings. This counteracts the excellent services children with congenital heart disease receive nowadays, and which have lead to the need of specialised adult service in the first place. It is a waste of time and resources if the efforts made in the paediatric care setting are not followed up adequately once the patients are grown up. This is a classic setting for implementing integrated care and this study offers a model, based on the available medical guidelines to do so.
PMCID: PMC3617751
transition from paediatric to adult services; GUCH; implementation of guidelines; integrated care centres
5.  Neonatal resuscitation in Canadian hospitals. 
A survey of Canadian hospitals providing obstetric care was undertaken to assess preparation, protocols, training and staff availability for neonatal resuscitation. Of the 721 hospitals contacted 577 (80%) responded. The reported availability of written guidelines for resuscitation varied greatly, depending on hospital size and proximity to a tertiary care centre. Many hospitals, especially those with 300 births or fewer annually, reported that they depend on family physicians or nurses to start and to continue neonatal resuscitation. Approximately one third of the hospitals had written guidelines for summoning personnel for additional help, and one third used a list of maternal or fetal indications for the presence of a physician specifically for the care of the infant at birth. Of 200 hospitals 138 (69%) had to summon additional medical help from outside the institution, 60% at all times. A neonatal resuscitation team in which members' roles were defined was established in 22% of the hospitals. Few hospitals held rehearsals for resuscitation. Nurses were permitted to perform intubation in 21 hospitals (4%), 7 of them in Alberta. National professional bodies should develop guidelines for training and skill maintenance, and hospitals should develop protocols for maintaining equipment and for neonatal resuscitation team activities, including regular practice. Training should be improved in family practice and obstetrics programs, and consideration should be given to training senior obstetric nurses and respiratory therapists in intubation of neonates.
PMCID: PMC1491890  PMID: 3815230
6.  Influence of ethnic origin on the pattern of congenital heart defects in the first year of life. 
British Heart Journal  1995;73(2):173-176.
OBJECTIVE--To assess the prevalence and patterns of congenital heart defects in infants requiring hospital admission in a defined population and to determine the differences in ethnic groups. DESIGN--A three year retrospective analysis of all hospital admissions for paediatric congenital heart defects in a single centre. SETTING--Tertiary referral centre for infant cardiac services in the West Midlands region, United Kingdom. PATIENTS AND METHODS--Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and other individuals from the Indian subcontinent constitute 5.8% of the total population of the West Midlands region. Some 9% of infants, however, are Asian because of a high birth rate. All infants with confirmed congenital heart defects resident in this region who required hospital admission between April 1990 and March 1993 were classified as Asians and non-Asian, mainly white, infants. RESULTS--Of 1111 infants with congenital heart defects born in the West Midlands and admitted to the hospital, 17.0% were Asian, significantly more than the percentage of Asian infants in the population (P < 0.0001). Asian infants had a higher proportion of complex congenital heart disease (7% v 2.1%, P < 0.001), whereas coarctation of the aorta was more common in non-Asian (3% v 9.1%, P = 0.003). Persistent arterial duct seemed to be more common in Asian children (16% v 10%, NS), but this group included preterm infants admitted for duct ligation. There was no significant difference between the two groups in the other nine categories of congenital heart defects. CONCLUSIONS--The estimated prevalence of congenital heart defects requiring hospital admission was higher in Asian infants than in non-Asian (9.45 per 1000 v 4.56 per 1000, P < 0.0001). Complex congenital heart defects were more common in Asian infants whereas coarctation of the aorta was more common in non-Asian.
PMCID: PMC483786  PMID: 7696029
7.  Helicopter Emergency Medical Service in Fars Province: The Referral Trauma Center of South of Iran 
Considering the limited available resources, high cost of the helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS), and high load of trauma patients especially in our centers, a careful assessment of HEMS in our center seemed to be necessary for trauma patients.
From April 2001 to September 2007, the data of all patients transferred by HEMS were extracted including: Annual number of services, clinical category, number of proper or improper services, and rescue time for HEMS and ground ambulance. The criteria for the properly transferred group included: Death or being operated in the first 24 hours of admission, admission in ICU care units, and transfer of more than three patients in one mission. Others were considered as improper group.
In this period through 185 flights, 225 victims were transferred. The most common reason of HEMS dispatching was trauma. The most difference of rescue time between ground ambulance and HEMS was recorded in Lamerd that was transferring patients with HEMS needed 3 hours less than ground ambulance. However, in Sarvestan, Dashte-Arjan, and Marvdasht, transferred patients with ground ambulance needed less time than air transfer. Most of transferred patients were from Kazeroon, Nourabad and Lamerd respectively while 46.3% of patients were in the proper group, and the rest were considered as improper group.
Our study revealed that helicopter dispatch to the cities like Lamerd, Lar, Khonj, Abadeh can be more effective, whereas, for the towns like Marvdasht, Dashte-Arjan, Sarvestan, Sepidan, Saadatshar, Tang Abolhayat use of HEMS should be limited to specific conditions. Our study showed inclusion of physicians in the decision making team increased the number of transferred cases.
PMCID: PMC3398638  PMID: 22829990
Iran; Helicopter; Ambulance; Air transfer; Trauma
8.  Paediatric cardiology programs in countries with limited resources: how to bridge the gap 
Establishing paediatric cardiology service in a country with limited resources like Sudan is a challenging task.
A paediatric cardiac team was formed then the services in different disciplines were gradually established. Echocardiography (echo) clinics were founded in tertiary and peripheral hospitals. Cardiac catheterization (cath) was established at the Sudan Heart Centre (SHC) in 2004 and over 400 procedures had been performed including interventional catheterization like pulmonary valve dilatation, patent ductus arteriosus and atrial septal defect device closure.
Congenital heart surgery started in 2001, currently 200 cases are done each year including closed procedures as well as open heart procedures for patients weighing more than 8 kg. Cardiology-cardiac surgery as well as adult congenital heart disease meetings were held and contributed positively to the services. The cardiology-cardiac surgery scientific club meeting was founded as a forum for academic discussions. A fellowship program was established in 2004 and included seven candidates trained in paediatric cardiology and intensive care. Two training courses had been established: congenital heart disease echo and paediatric electrocardiogram interpretation. Links with regional and international cardiac centres had important roles in consolidating our program.
Significant obstacles face our service due to the small number of trained personnel, high cost of procedures, the lack of regular supplies and lack of cardiac intensive care facilities for young infants.
Bridging the huge gap needs extensive official as well as non-governmental efforts, training more staff, supporting families and collaboration with regional and international centres.
PMCID: PMC3727505  PMID: 23960607
Paediatric cardiology; Sudan
9.  Impact of pulse oximetry screening on the detection of duct dependent congenital heart disease: a Swedish prospective screening study in 39 821 newborns 
Objective To evaluate the use of pulse oximetry to screen for early detection of life threatening congenital heart disease.
Design Prospective screening study with a new generation pulse oximeter before discharge from well baby nurseries in West Götaland. Cohort study comparing the detection rate of duct dependent circulation in West Götaland with that in other regions not using pulse oximetry screening. Deaths at home with undetected duct dependent circulation were included.
Setting All 5 maternity units in West Götaland and the supraregional referral centre for neonatal cardiac surgery.
Participants 39 821 screened babies born between 1 July 2004 and 31 March 2007. Total duct dependent circulation cohorts: West Götaland n=60, other referring regions n=100.
Main outcome measures Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and likelihood ratio for pulse oximetry screening and for neonatal physical examination alone.
Results In West Götaland 29 babies in well baby nurseries had duct dependent circulation undetected before neonatal discharge examination. In 13 cases, pulse oximetry showed oxygen saturations ≤90%, and (in accordance with protocol) clinical staff were immediately told of the results. Of the remaining 16 cases, physical examination alone detected 10 (63%). Combining physical examination with pulse oximetry screening had a sensitivity of 24/29 (82.8% (95% CI 64.2% to 95.2%)) and detected 100% of the babies with duct dependent lung circulation. Five cases were missed (all with aortic arch obstruction). False positive rate with pulse oximetry was substantially lower than that with physical examination alone (69/39 821 (0.17%) v 729/38 413 (1.90%), P<0.0001), and 31/69 of the “false positive” cases with pulse oximetry had other pathology. Thus, referral of all cases with positive oximetry results for echocardiography resulted in only 2.3 echocardiograms with normal cardiac findings for every true positive case of duct dependent circulation. In the cohort study, the risk of leaving hospital with undiagnosed duct dependent circulation was 28/100 (28%) in other referring regions versus 5/60 (8%) in West Götaland (P=0.0025, relative risk 3.36 (95% CI 1.37 to 8.24)). In the other referring regions 11/25 (44%) of babies with transposition of the great arteries left hospital undiagnosed versus 0/18 in West Götaland (P=0.0010), and severe acidosis at diagnosis was more common (33/100 (33%) v 7/60 (12%), P=0.0025, relative risk 2.8 (1.3 to 6.0)). Excluding premature babies and Norwood surgery, babies discharged without diagnosis had higher mortality than those diagnosed in hospital (4/27 (18%) v 1/110 (0.9%), P=0.0054). No baby died from undiagnosed duct dependent circulation in West Götaland versus five babies from the other referring regions.
Conclusion Introducing pulse oximetry screening before discharge improved total detection rate of duct dependent circulation to 92%. Such screening seems cost neutral in the short term, but the probable prevention of neurological morbidity and reduced need for preoperative neonatal intensive care suggest that such screening will be cost effective long term.
PMCID: PMC2627280  PMID: 19131383
10.  Heart rate monitored hypothermia and drowning in a 48-year-old man. survival without sequelae: a case report 
Cases Journal  2009;2:6204.
Victims of severe hypothermia and cardiac arrest may appear dead. They are often unresponsive to on-scene resuscitation including defibrillation while profoundly hypothermic. Several cases of extreme hypothermia and prolonged cardiac arrest with good outcome have been published. We present a case of heart rate monitored (by pulse-watch) hypothermia, prolonged cardiac arrest and survival with complete recovery of neurological functions.
Case presentation
On December 22nd 2007 a physically fit, ethnic Norwegian 48-year-old male kayaker set out to paddle alone around an island in a Norwegian fjord. 3 hours 24 min into his trip the kayak capsized in 3.5°C seawater about 500m from the closest shore. The accident was not observed. He managed to call for help using his cellular phone. After a search and rescue operation he was found by our air ambulance helicopter floating, prone, head submerged, with cardiopulmonary arrest and profound hypothermia. He was wearing a personal heart rate monitor/pulse watch. Following extraction, he received cardiopulmonary resuscitation during transport by air ambulance helicopter to hospital. He was warmed on cardiopulmonary bypass from 20.6°C core temperature and return of spontaneous circulation was achieved 3h 27 m after cardiac arrest occurred. After 21 days of intensive care he was discharged from hospital 32 days after his accident. Testing revealed normal cognitive functions one year after the incident. He has returned to his job as an engineer, and has also taken up kayaking again. We provide heart rate and time data leading up to his cardiac arrest.
Hypothermia has well established neuro-protective effects in cardiac arrest, as our case also shows. Simple cardiopulmonary resuscitation without use of drugs or defibrillation, should be continued until the patients can be re-warmed, preferably using cardiopulmonary bypass. This approach can be highly effective even in seemingly lost cases.
PMCID: PMC2769272  PMID: 19918562
11.  Current practice in transferring critically ill patients among hospitals in the west of Scotland. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1990;300(6717):85-87.
OBJECTIVE--To identify the requirements of an interhospital transfer service for critically ill patients. DESIGN--Retrospective survey of the current functions of a specialist interhospital transfer team from data collected at the time of transfer and from records of intensive care unit. SETTING--Mobile intensive care unit based at a tertiary referral centre, which serves the west of Scotland. PATIENTS--All critically ill patients (378) transferred between hospitals by the unit from 1986 to 1988. RESULTS--365 Patients were transferred by road and 13 by air. There was a wide variation in age (range 6 weeks to 87 years), diagnosis, reason for transfer, support required, and distance travelled. Most patients (232) were transferred for respiratory or cardiovascular support; 100 were trauma cases. 300 Patients (79%) were mechanically ventilated during transfer. No patient died in transit, although the eventual mortality was 28% (105 patients). Mortality was significantly higher in patients transferred from hospitals with intensive care units than from those without (38% (125 patients) v 23% (253); p less than 0.005). IMPLICATIONS--Safe interhospital transfer of critically ill patients is feasible; the high eventual mortality in some patient groups emphasises the need for accurate prediction of outcome if inappropriate transfer is to be avoided. The findings may help in organising secondary transfer services in future.
PMCID: PMC1661973  PMID: 2105781
12.  High fidelity medical simulation in the difficult environment of a helicopter: feasibility, self-efficacy and cost 
This study assessed the feasibility, self-efficacy and cost of providing a high fidelity medical simulation experience in the difficult environment of an air ambulance helicopter.
Seven of 12 EM residents in their first postgraduate year participated in an EMS flight simulation as the flight physician. The simulation used the Laerdal SimMan™ to present a cardiac and a trauma case in an EMS helicopter while running at flight idle. Before and after the simulation, subjects completed visual analog scales and a semi-structured interview to measure their self-efficacy, i.e. comfort with their ability to treat patients in the helicopter, and recognition of obstacles to care in the helicopter environment. After all 12 residents had completed their first non-simulated flight as the flight physician; they were surveyed about self-assessed comfort and perceived value of the simulation. Continuous data were compared between pre- and post-simulation using a paired samples t-test, and between residents participating in the simulation and those who did not using an independent samples t-test. Categorical data were compared using Fisher's exact test. Cost data for the simulation experience were estimated by the investigators.
The simulations functioned correctly 5 out of 7 times; suggesting some refinement is necessary. Cost data indicated a monetary cost of $440 and a time cost of 22 hours of skilled instructor time. The simulation and non-simulation groups were similar in their demographics and pre-hospital experiences. The simulation did not improve residents' self-assessed comfort prior to their first flight (p > 0.234), but did improve understanding of the obstacles to patient care in the helicopter (p = 0.029). Every resident undertaking the simulation agreed it was educational and it should be included in their training. Qualitative data suggested residents would benefit from high fidelity simulation in other environments, including ground transport and for running codes in hospital.
It is feasible to provide a high fidelity medical simulation experience in the difficult environment of the air ambulance helicopter, although further experience is necessary to eliminate practical problems. Simulation improves recognition of the challenges present and provides an important opportunity for training in challenging environments. However, use of simulation technology is expensive both in terms of monetary outlay and of personnel involvement. The benefits of this technology must be weighed against the cost for each institution.
PMCID: PMC1613239  PMID: 17020624
13.  Excessive exposure of sick neonates to sound during transport 
Objective: To determine the levels of sound to which infants are exposed during routine transport by ambulance, aircraft, and helicopter.
Design: Sound levels during 38 consecutive journeys from a regional level III neonatal intensive care unit were recorded using a calibrated data logging sound meter (Quest 2900). The meter was set to record "A" weighted slow response integrated sound levels, which emulates the response of the human ear, and "C" weighted response sound levels as a measure of total sound level exposure for all frequencies. The information was downloaded to a computer using MS HyperTerminal. The resulting data were stored, and a graphical profile was generated for each journey using SigmaPlot software.
Setting: Eight journeys involved ambulance transport on country roads, 24 involved fixed wing aircraft, and four were by helicopter.
Main outcome measures: Relations between decibel levels and events or changes in transport mode were established by correlating the time logged on the sound meter with the standard transport documentation sheet.
Results: The highest sound levels were recorded during air transport. However, mean sound levels for all modes of transport exceeded the recommended levels for neonatal intensive care. The maximum sound levels recorded were extremely high at greater than 80 dB in the "A" weighted hearing range and greater than 120 dB in the total frequency range.
Conclusions: This study raises major concerns about the excessive exposure of the sick newborn to sound during transportation.
PMCID: PMC1763236  PMID: 14602701
14.  Morbidity and severity of illness during interhospital transfer: impact of a specialised paediatric retrieval team. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1995;311(7009):836-839.
OBJECTIVE--To evaluate the morbidity and severity of illness during interhospital transfer of critically ill children by a specialised paediatric retrieval team. DESIGN--Prospective, descriptive study. SETTING--Hospitals without paediatric intensive care facilities in and around the London area, and a paediatric intensive care unit at a tertiary centre. SUBJECTS--51 critically ill children transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Adverse events related to equipment and physiological deterioration during transfer. Paediatric risk of mortality score before and after retrieval. Therapeutic intervention score before and after arrival of retrieval team. RESULTS--Two (4%) patients had preventable physiological deterioration during transport. There were no adverse events related to equipment. Severity of illness decreased during stabilisation and transport by the retrieval team, suggested by the difference between risk of mortality scores before and after retrieval (P < 0.001). The median (range) difference between the two scores was 3.0 (-6 to 17). Interventions during stabilisation by the retrieval team increased, demonstrated by the difference between intervention scores before and after retrieval, median (range) difference between the two scores being 6 (-8 to 38) (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS--Our study indicates that a specialised paediatric retrieval team can rapidly deliver intensive care to critically ill children awaiting transfer. Such children can be transferred to a paediatric intensive care unit with minimal morbidity and mortality related to transport. There was no deterioration in the clinical condition of most patients during transfer.
PMCID: PMC2550851  PMID: 7580489
15.  Grown-up congenital heart (GUCH) disease: current needs and provision of service for adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease in the UK 
Heart  2002;88(Suppl 1):i1-i14.
The size of the national population of patients with grown-up congenital heart disease (GUCH) is uncertain, but since 80–85% of patients born with congenital heart disease now survive to adulthood (age 16 years), an annual increase of 2500 can be anticipated according to birth rate. Organisation of medical care is haphazard with only three of 18 cardiac surgical centres operating on over 30 cases per annum and only two established specialised units fully equipped and staffed.
Not all grown-ups with congenital heart disease require the same level of expertise; 20–25% are complex, rare, etc, and require life long expert supervision and/or intervention; a further 35–40% require access to expert consultation. The rest, about 40%, have simple or cured diseases and need little or no specialist expertise. The size of the population needing expertise is small in comparison to coronary and hypertensive disease, aging, and increasing in complexity. It requires expert cardiac surgery and specialised medical cardiology, intensive care, electrophysiology, imaging and interventions, "at risk" pregnancy services, connection to transplant services familiar with their basic problem, clinical nurse specialist advisors, and trained nurses.
An integrated national service is described with 4–6 specialist units established within adult cardiology, ideally in relation or proximity to university hospital/departments in appropriate geographic location, based in association with established paediatric cardiac surgical centres with designated inpatient and outpatient facilities for grown-up patients with congenital heart disease. Specialist units should accept responsibility for educating the profession, training the specialists, cooperative research, receiving patients "out of region", sharing particular skills between each other, and they must liaise with other services and trusts in the health service, particularly specified outpatient clinics in district and regional centres. Not every regional cardiac centre requires a full GUCH specialised service since there are too few patients. Complex patients need to be concentrated for expertise, experience, and optimal management. Transition of care from paediatric to adult supervision should be routine, around age 16 years, flexibly managed, smooth, and explained to patient and family. Each patient should be entered into a local database and a national registry needs to be established. The Department of Health should accept responsibility of dissemination of information on special needs of such patients. The GUCH Patients' Association is active in helping with lifestyle and social problems.
Easy access to specialised care for those with complex heart disease is crucial if the nation accepts, as it should, continued medical responsibility to provide optimal medical care for GUCH patients.
PMCID: PMC1876264  PMID: 12181200
16.  Gaslini's tracheal team: preliminary experience after one year of paediatric airway reconstructive surgery 
congenital and acquired airway anomalies represent a relatively common albeit challenging problem in a national tertiary care hospital. In the past, most of these patients were sent to foreign Centres because of the lack of local experience in reconstructive surgery of the paediatric airway. In 2009, a dedicated team was established at our Institute. Gaslini's Tracheal Team includes different professionals, namely anaesthetists, intensive care specialists, neonatologists, pulmonologists, radiologists, and ENT, paediatric, and cardiovascular surgeons. The aim of this project was to provide these multidisciplinary patients, at any time, with intensive care, radiological investigations, diagnostic and operative endoscopy, reconstructive surgery, ECMO or cardiopulmonary bypass. Aim of this study is to present the results of the first year of airway reconstructive surgery activity of the Tracheal Team.
between September 2009 and December 2010, 97 patients were evaluated or treated by our Gaslini Tracheal Team. Most of them were evaluated by both rigid and flexible endoscopy. In this study we included 8 patients who underwent reconstructive surgery of the airways. Four of them were referred to our centre or previously treated surgically or endoscopically without success in other Centres.
Eight patients required 9 surgical procedures on the airway: 4 cricotracheal resections, 2 laryngotracheoplasties, 1 tracheal resection, 1 repair of laryngeal cleft and 1 foreign body removal with cardiopulmonary bypass through anterior tracheal opening. Moreover, in 1 case secondary aortopexy was performed. All patients achieved finally good results, but two of them required two surgeries and most required endoscopic manoeuvres after surgery. The most complex cases were the ones who had already been previously treated.
The treatment of paediatric airway anomalies requires a dedicated multidisciplinary approach and a single tertiary care Centre providing rapid access to endoscopic and surgical manoeuvres on upper and lower airways and the possibility to start immediately cardiopulmonary bypass or ECMO.
The preliminary experience of the Tracheal Team shows that good results can be obtained with this multidisciplinary approach in the treatment of complicated cases. The centralization of all the cases in one or few national Centres should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3223146  PMID: 22029825
17.  Factors associated with mortality and length of stay in hospitalised neonates in Eritrea, Africa: a cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e000792.
To determine the factors associated with mortality in a hospitalised cohort of infants in Asmara, Eritrea.
Retrospective cross-sectional review of all 2006 admissions to a specialised neonatal intensive care unit. Data on gestational age (prematurity), age at presentation, birth weight, gender, mode of delivery, Apgar score, maternal age, birth location, admission diagnosis, admission comorbidities, time of admission and outcome were collected.
Orotta Pediatric Hospital ‘Specialised Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’ (SNCU) in Orotta National Maternity Referral Hospital, the nation's only tertiary newborn centre.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Factors associated with mortality and length of stay via multivariate regression analysis and the combined association of both hypothermia and pneumonia. Other outcome measures were determination of the association of admission hypothermia, time of admission and pneumonia on mortality.
A total of 1502 infants were admitted to the SNCU with an average preterm gestational age of 35.9 weeks. 87 died (mortality 8.2%). In bivariate analysis, the highest mortality rate (10.3%) was seen in patient's admitted <1 h after birth. Patients with hypothermia or pneumonia exhibited higher mortality rates (13.6% and 13.4%, respectively). In multivariate analysis, birth weight <2 kg (p<0.01), birth weight between 2.1 and 2.5 kg (p<0.01), Apgar score at 1 min (p<0.01), small for gestational age (p<0.01), hypothermia (p<0.04) and pneumonia (p<0.01) were associated with mortality.
Hypothermia, pneumonia, younger gestational age, 1 min Apgar score and small size for gestational age are significantly associated with mortality and longer length of stay in the Eritrean SNCU.
Article summary
Article focus
Limited data exist on the causes of mortality in Eritrea.
Review of inpatient hospitalisation data in Eritrea's only tertiary care intensive care nursery allows for insight into factors associated with mortality.
The purpose of the study was to determine factors associated with mortality in a hospitalised cohort of infants in Asmara, Eritrea.
Key messages
Pneumonia, hypothermia, abnormalities of gestational age, lower Apgar scores, decreased birth weight and younger gestational age are associated with mortality and morbidity (including longer length of stay) in Eritrea and should be a focus area for improving care.
Increasing attendance of skilled resuscitation personnel at deliveries and improved attention post-delivery may improve mortality by reducing hypothermia, improving Apgar scores and increasing prompt treatment of medical sequalle of small- and large-for-gestational-age neonates.
Substantial reduction in neonatal mortality with increased attention to these factors may be possible without significant increases in costs and should be an area for future research effects aimed at evaluating the effect of skilled resuscitators on short- and long-term neonatal mortality.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Information was obtained in 2006 and may not be indicative of real-time annual changes in neonatal mortality rate. Furthermore, information on birth weight, Apgar score and temperature may not be representative of national data as many births occur at home, a commonly encountered problem for research in the developing world. Also potentially confounding is the inclusion of pneumonia versus sepsis as two distinct categories.
PMCID: PMC3467653  PMID: 22983873
18.  Neonatal resuscitation assessment: documentation and early paging must be improved! 
The authors had previously found flaws in resuscitation after severe neonatal asphyxia in cases selected on the grounds of suspected malpractice and financial compensation claims. The aim of the present study was to evaluate neonatal resuscitation in the general obstetric population in a setting with skilled attendance at birth.
Observational study.
Setting and patients
All infants born in the Stockholm County during 2004–2006 with a gestational age of ≥33 weeks, planned as vaginal delivery, with a normal cardiotocographic recording on admission to hospital and with an Apgar score of <7 at 5 min were included.
Main outcome measures
Adherence to guidelines for neonatal resuscitation.
Documentation was unsatisfactory in 142 (45%) infants. Other important shortcomings identified were delayed initiation of extensive resuscitation due to late paging or late arrival of attending paediatrician/neonatologist (n=48), and unsatisfactory ventilation related to late intubation and late securing of free airway (n=15).
Substandard care in neonatal resuscitation is not limited to cases of severe asphyxia related to claims for medical malpractice. The overall documentation of neonatal resuscitation needs to be much better to enable accurate and reliable evaluation. Obvious actions to improve standards of care include the paging of skilled personnel at an earlier stage in cases of complicated deliveries and team and skills training in neonatal ventilation.
PMCID: PMC3345134  PMID: 22034655
19.  Census of neonatal transfers in London and the South East of England 
Objectives: To determine the number and characteristics of inter-hospital transfers of newborn infants in London and the South East of England.
Design: Prospective census of neonatal transfers over a three month period.
Setting: Transfers between the 53 hospitals that provide care for newborn infants within the former Thames regions.
Data sources: Census returns from participating neonatal units.
Main outcome measures: Number, timing, and hours of staff time spent on transfers. Gestation, birth weight, and reason for transfer of the baby. Time elapsed between request and retrieving team departing and arriving with patient.
Results: A daily average of 2.7 urgent, 3.5 elective, and 0.7 short term transfers took place during the census period. The most common reason for urgent transfer was neonatal surgery. Neonatal unit staff spent an average of 21 hours a day off their units accompanying transfers each day. It took over four hours for 90% of ambulances to set off with the retrieving team and over six hours for 90% of teams to reach the baby.
Conclusions: During the census period, services for the transport of neonates in London and the South East of England involved long delays and used appreciable amounts of staff time. It is likely that a small number of dedicated neonatal transfer teams could meet the needs identified in this census more effectively than the 53 hospitals currently involved.
PMCID: PMC1721793  PMID: 15499146
20.  Counselling and management for anticipated extremely preterm birth 
Paediatrics & Child Health  2012;17(8):443-444.
Extremely preterm birth (birth between 220/7 and 256/7 weeks’ gestational age [GA]) often requires parents to make complex choices about the care of their infant. Health professionals have a significant role in providing information, guidance and support. Parents facing the birth of an extremely preterm infant should have the chance to meet with both obstetrical and paediatric/neonatal care providers to receive accurate information about their infant’s prognosis, provided with clarity and compassion. Decision making between parents and health professionals should be an informed and shared process, with documentation of all management decisions. Consultation with and transfer to tertiary perinatal centres are important for the care of both mother and fetus. As the survival of infants born before or at 22 completed weeks’ GA remains uncommon, a noninterventional approach is recommended, whereas at 23, 24 and 25 weeks’ GA, counselling about outcomes and decision making should be individualized for each infant and family, using factors which influence prognosis. All extremely preterm infants who are not resuscitated, or for whom resuscitation is not successful, must receive compassionate palliative care.
PMCID: PMC3474387  PMID: 24082807
Antenatal counselling; Ethics; Extreme prematurity; Resuscitation
21.  Incidence of and Risk Factors for Neonatal Respiratory Depression and Encephalopathy in Rural Sarlahi, Nepal 
Pediatrics  2011;128(4):e915-e924.
To characterize the incidence of, risk factors for, and neonatal morbidity and mortality associated with respiratory depression at birth and neonatal encephalopathy (NE) among term infants in a developing country.
Data were collected prospectively in 2002–2006 during a community-based trial that enrolled 23 662 newborns in rural Nepal and evaluated the impact of umbilical-cord and skin cleansing on neonatal morbidity and mortality rates. Respiratory depression at birth and NE were defined on the basis of symptoms from maternal reports and study-worker observations during home visits.
Respiratory depression at birth was reported for 19.7% of live births, and 79% of cases involved term infants without congenital anomalies. Among newborns with probable intrapartum-related respiratory depression (N = 3465), 112 (3%) died before their first home visit (presumed severe NE), and 178 (5%) eventually developed symptoms of NE. Overall, 629 term infants developed NE (28.1 cases per 1000 live births); 2% of cases were associated with congenital anomalies, 25% with infections, and 28% with a potential intrapartum event. The incidence of intrapartum-related NE was 13.0 cases per 1000 live births; the neonatal case fatality rate was 46%. Infants with NE more frequently experienced birth complications and were male, of multiple gestation, or born to nulliparous mothers.
In Sarlahi, the incidence of neonatal respiratory depression and NE, associated neonatal case fatality, and morbidity prevalence are high. Action is required to increase coverage of skilled obstetric/neonatal care in this setting and to evaluate long-term impairments.
PMCID: PMC3182846  PMID: 21949140
neonatal encephalopathy; neonatal respiratory depression; birth asphyxia; Nepal; developing country; neurodevelopment; intrapartum
22.  Effect of training traditional birth attendants on neonatal mortality (Lufwanyama Neonatal Survival Project): randomised controlled study 
Objective To determine whether training traditional birth attendants to manage several common perinatal conditions could reduce neonatal mortality in the setting of a resource poor country with limited access to healthcare.
Design Prospective, cluster randomised and controlled effectiveness study.
Setting Lufwanyama, an agrarian, poorly developed district located in the Copperbelt province, Zambia. All births carried out by study birth attendants occurred at mothers’ homes, in rural village settings.
Participants 127 traditional birth attendants and mothers and their newborns (3559 infants delivered regardless of vital status) from Lufwanyama district.
Interventions Using an unblinded design, birth attendants were cluster randomised to intervention or control groups. The intervention had two components: training in a modified version of the neonatal resuscitation protocol, and single dose amoxicillin coupled with facilitated referral of infants to a health centre. Control birth attendants continued their existing standard of care (basic obstetric skills and use of clean delivery kits).
Main outcome measures The primary outcome was the proportion of liveborn infants who died by day 28 after birth, with rate ratios statistically adjusted for clustering. Secondary outcomes were mortality at different time points; and comparison of causes of death based on verbal autopsy data.
Results Among 3497 deliveries with reliable information, mortality at day 28 after birth was 45% lower among liveborn infants delivered by intervention birth attendants than control birth attendants (rate ratio 0.55, 95% confidence interval 0.33 to 0.90). The greatest reductions in mortality were in the first 24 hours after birth: 7.8 deaths per 1000 live births for infants delivered by intervention birth attendants compared with 19.9 per 1000 for infants delivered by control birth attendants (0.40, 0.19 to 0.83). Deaths due to birth asphyxia were reduced by 63% among infants delivered by intervention birth attendants (0.37, 0.17 to 0.81) and by 81% within the first two days after birth (0.19, 0.07 to 0.52). Stillbirths and deaths from serious infection occurred at similar rates in both groups.
Conclusions Training traditional birth attendants to manage common perinatal conditions significantly reduced neonatal mortality in a rural African setting. This approach has high potential to be applied to similar settings with dispersed rural populations.
Trial registration NCT00518856.
PMCID: PMC3032994  PMID: 21292711
23.  Primary coronary angioplasty for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction in Qatar: First nationwide program 
Abstract: In this article, we outline the plans, protocols and strategies to set up the first nationwide primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) program for ST-elevation myocardial Infarction (STEMI) in Qatar, as well as the difficulties and the multi-disciplinary solutions that we adopted in preparation. We will also report some of the landmark literature that guided our plans. The guidelines underscore the need for adequate number of procedures to justify establishing a primary-PCI service and maintain competency. The number of both diagnostic and interventional procedures in our centre has increased substantially over the years. The number of diagnostic procedures has increased from 1470 in 2007, to 2200 in 2009 and is projected to exceed 3000 by the end of 2012. The total number of PCIs has also increased from 443 in 2007, to 646 in 2009 and 1176 in 2011 and is expected to exceed 1400 by the end of 2012. These figures qualify our centre to be classified as ‘high volume’, both for the institution and for the individual interventional operators. The initial number of expected primary PCI procedures will be in excess of 600 procedures per year. Guidelines also emphasize the door to balloon time (DBT), which should not exceed 90 minutes. This interval mainly represents in-hospital delay and reflects the efficiency of the hospital system in the rapid recognition and transfer of the STEMI patient to the catheterization laboratory for primary-PCI. Although DBT is clearly important and is in the forefront of planning for the wide primary PCI program, it is not the only important time interval. Myocardial necrosis begins before the patient arrives to the hospital and even before first medical contact, so time is of the essence. Therefore, our primary PCI program includes a nationwide awareness program for both the population and health care professionals to reduce the pre-hospital delay. We have also taken steps to improve the pre-hospital diagnosis of STEMI. In addition to equipping all ambulances to perform 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECGs) we will establish advanced wireless transmission of the ECG to our Heart Centre and to the smart phone of the consultant on-call for the primary-PCI service. This will ensure that the patient is transferred directly to the cath lab without unnecessary delay in the emergency rooms. A single phone-call system will allow the first medic making the diagnosis to activate the primary PCI team. The emergency medical system is acquiring capability to track the exact position of each ambulance using GPS technology to give an accurate estimate of the time needed to arrive to the patient and/or to the hospital. We also plan for medical helicopter evacuation from remote or inaccessible areas. A comprehensive research database is being established to enable specific pioneering research projects and clinical trials, either as a single centre or in collaboration with other regional or international centers. The primary-PCI program is a collaborative effort between the Heart Hospital, Hamada Medical Corporation and the Qatar Cardiovascular Research Centre, a member of Qatar Foundation. Qatar will be first country to have a unified nationwide primary-PCI program. This clinical and research program could be a model that may be adopted in other countries to improve outcomes of patients with STEMI.
PMCID: PMC3963721  PMID: 24688990
24.  The availability, spatial accessibility, service utilisation and retrieval cost of paediatric intensive care services for children in rural, regional and remote Queensland: study protocol 
Specialist health services are often organised on a regionalised basis whereby clinical resources and expertise are concentrated in areas of high population. Through a high volume caseload, regionalised facilities may provide improved clinical outcomes for patients. In some cases, regionalisation may be the only economically viable way to organise specialist care. While regionalisation may have benefits, it may also disadvantage some population groups, particularly in circumstances where distance and time are impediments to access.
Queensland is a large Australian state with a distributed population. Providing equitable access to specialist healthcare services to the population is challenging. Specialist care for critically ill or injured children is provided by the Queensland Paediatric Intensive Care Service which comprises two tertiary paediatric intensive care units. The two units are located 6 km (3.7 miles) apart by road in the state capital of Brisbane and provide state-wide telephone advice and specialist retrieval services. Services also extend into the northern area of the adjacent state of New South Wales. In some cases children may be managed locally in adult intensive care units in regional hospitals.
The aim of this study is to describe the effect of geography and service organisation for children who need intensive care services but who present outside of metropolitan centres in Queensland.
Using health services and population data, the availability and spatial accessibility to paediatric intensive care services will be analysed. Retrieval utilisation and the associated costs to the health service will be analysed to provide an indication of service utilisation by non-metropolitan patients.
While the regionalisation or centralisation of specialist services is recognised as an economical way to provide specialist health services, the extent to which these models serve critically ill children who live some distance from tertiary care has not been described. This study will provide new information on the effect of the regionalisation of specialist healthcare for critically ill children in Queensland and will have relevance to other regionalised health services. This study, which is focussed on describing the organisation, supply and demands on the health service, will provide the foundation for future work to explore clinical outcomes for non-metropolitan children who require intensive care.
PMCID: PMC3750370  PMID: 23638680
Paediatrics; Paediatric intensive care; Retrieval; Regionalisation; Health service organisation; Spatial accessibility
25.  P24 - Geriatric Medicine: An Innovative Care Strategy in Orthopaedics and Traumatology 
For many years, the administration of the Careggi University Hospital (CUH), in agreement with the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Florence, has pressed for the creation of a department of general medicine within its othopaedic traumatology centre. In its decision n.243 of May 5, 2009, the administration of the CUH, along the lines of similar experiences already in place, set up a simple departmental unit (SDU) of geriatric medicine (GM) within the hospital’s department of orthopaedics.
The aim of this unit is to guarantee continuity of care to orthopaedics inpatients, through the identification of a specific care pathway for clinically unstable patients. The clinical activity carried out, mainly in the context of the provision of continuity of care, takes the form of daily consultancy. The SDU has a series of objectives, organisational (less postponement of surgery due to medical problems, better integration of healthcare through a multidisciplinary team, provision of internal medicine and geriatric consultancy to guarantee continuity of care), clinical (reduction of peri-operative medical complications and adverse events) and strategic (improvement of the quality of geriatric and internal medicine care, better communication with patients and families). The unit strives to exploit to the full the multi-professional (doctors, rehabilitation therapists, registered nurses, social workers) and interdisciplinary (internal medicine, geriatrics, orthopaedics, physical medicine, anaesthesiology, cardiology, angiology etc.) intervention and, in the fragile elderly, applies a multi-dimensional geriatric assessment instrument.
Clinical activity:
The physicians working in the GM SDU provide daily consultancy, including Saturday mornings. Constant telephone contact is available, also on Sundays and holidays.
In the period from 1/9/2009 to 31/7/2010, a total of 1867 consultancies were provided, spread over 268 days, which corresponds to a mean of 6.97 examinations/day. Of these, 652 (34.92%) were first visits and 1215 (65.08%) were follow ups. The assessments were always conducted in a spirit of multi-professional and multidisciplinary collaboration.
The assessments were carried out in the following departments: general orthopaedics II (25.98%), general orthopaedics I (21.26%), general orthopaedics III (18.26%), traumatology-orthopaedics (13.55%), orthopaedic oncology and reconstruction (11.25%) as well as, in smaller percentages, in all the other SDUs of the orthopaedics department, in the neurosurgery department, the plastic surgery department and the spinal unit.
In particular, internal and geriatric medicine consultancy for patients was requested in connection with high levels of co-morbidity, polypharmacy regimens, acute confusional state, dehydration, hydro-electrolytic disorders, uncompensated type 2 diabetes mellitus, pulmonary embolism, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, pneumonia and bronchitis causing respiratory insufficiency, decompensated congestive heart failure, targeted antibiotic therapy, chronic renal insufficiency, and management of anti-aggregant and anticoagulant therapies.
Positive aspects: the clinical assessments were made using a multidisciplinary approach, based on the fundamental collaboration of specialists in orthopaedics, anaesthesiology-resuscitation, angiology, cardiology, radiology and physical medicine; excellent collaboration with services (radiology, neuroradiology, angiology, cardiology, etc.).
Negative aspects: constant difficulties transferring clinically unstable patients to the hospital’s medical specialty SDUs due to lack of beds; lack of intermediate care beds as a sort of “buffer” between the intensive care and inpatient departments; scope for improving the internal medicine skills of the nursing staff.
Research projects:
In synergy the hospital’s other SDUs, the GM SDU takes part in projects aiming to improve care and clinical management. It currently has collaborations with the geriatrics clinic, regional centre of reference for haemostasis and thrombosis, the bone metabolism clinic, the orthopaedics clinics, the geriatrics agency, the radiology service, the continuity-of-care agency, the clinical management, and the general affairs unit. Furthermore, on the instigation of the regional health council, a working group has recently been set up on the reorganisation of the “Care pathway of elderly patients with proximal femur fracture (orthogeriatrics)”.
Prospects for implementation and improvement:
The aims of the “Project to reorganise and upgrade the orthopaedics and traumatology centre of the Careggi University Hospital” include: the institution of a medical geriatrics department providing medium and high intensity of care; the presence, 24 hours/day, of a specialist from the medical area in the traumatology open space; the involvement of the internal medicine specialist in pre-hospitalisation procedures.
PMCID: PMC3213796

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