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1.  The future of primary healthcare in Australia: Where to from here? 
PMCID: PMC3941581  PMID: 24611077
2.  The current state of diabetes mellitus in India 
PMCID: PMC3920109  PMID: 24567766
4.  Using care plans to better manage multimorbidity 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2015;8(6):208-215.
The health care for patients having two or more long-term medical conditions is fragmented between specialists, allied health professionals, and general practitioners (GPs), each keeping separate medical records. There are separate guidelines for each disease, making it difficult for the GP to coordinate care. The TrueBlue model of collaborative care to address key problems in managing patients with multimorbidity in general practice previously reported outcomes on the management of multimorbidities. We report on the care plan for patients with depression, diabetes, and/or coronary heart disease that was embedded in the TrueBlue study.
A care plan was designed around diabetes, coronary heart disease, and depression management guidelines to prompt implementation of best practices and to provide a single document for information from multiple sources. It was used in the TrueBlue trial undertaken by 400 patients (206 intervention and 194 control) from 11 Australian general practices in regional and metropolitan areas.
Practice nurses and GPs successfully used the care plan to achieve the guideline-recommended checks for almost all patients, and successfully monitored depression scores and risk factors, kept pathology results up to date, and identified patient priorities and goals. Clinical outcomes improved compared with usual care.
The care plan was used successfully to manage and prioritise multimorbidity. Downstream implications include improving efficiency in patient management, and better health outcomes for patients with complex multimorbidities.
PMCID: PMC4496721  PMID: 26213584
Multimorbidity; care plans; collaborative care; diabetes; heart disease; depression
5.  Hospital discharge information after elective total hip or knee joint replacement surgery: A clinical audit of preferences among general practitioners 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2012;5(10):544-550.
The demand for elective joint replacement (EJR) surgery for degenerative joint disease continues to rise in Australia, and relative to earlier practices, patients are discharged back to the care of their general practitioner (GP) and other community-based providers after a shorter hospital stay and potentially greater post-operative acuity. In order to coordinate safe and effective post-operative care, GPs rely on accurate, timely and clinically-informative information from hospitals when their patients are discharged. The aim of this project was to undertake an audit with GPs regarding their preferences about the components of information provided in discharge summaries for patients undergoing EJR surgery for the hip or knee.
GPs in a defined catchment area were invited to respond to an online audit instrument, developed by an interdisciplinary group of clinicians with knowledge of orthopaedic surgery practices. The 15-item instrument required respondents to rank the importance of components of discharge information developed by the clinician working group, using a three-point rating scale.
Fifty-three GPs and nine GP registrars responded to the audit invitation (11.0% response rate). All discharge information options were ranked as ‘essential’ by a proportion of respondents, ranging from 14.8–88.5%. Essential information requested by the respondents included early post-operative actions required by the GP, medications prescribed, post-operative complications encountered and noting of any allergies. Non-essential information related to the prosthesis used. The provision of clinical guidelines was largely rated as ‘useful’ information (47.5–56.7%).
GPs require a range of clinical information to safely and effectively care for their patients after discharge from hospital for EJR surgery. Implementation of changes to processes used to create discharge summaries will require engagement and collaboration between clinical staff, hospital administrators and information technology staff, supported in parallel by education provided to junior medical staff.
PMCID: PMC3494827  PMID: 23173019
General practitioner; joint replacement surgery; discharge; hospital; communication
6.  Can physiotherapists contribute to care in the emergency department? 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2014;7(7):315-317.
PMCID: PMC4127962  PMID: 25157271
7.  Acute coronary syndrome in Australia: Where are we now and where are we going? 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2014;7(3):149-156.
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a significant contributor to both morbidity and mortality in Australia. Generally speaking, sufferers of ACS who live in rural areas and are treated at rural hospitals have poorer outcomes than those living in metropolitan areas.
To characterise the differences in the management and outcomes of rural and metropolitan populations in the context of ACS, as well as identify factors responsible for these differences and suggest how they may be addressed.
A review of the current literature surrounding ACS in Australia was undertaken. Through the MEDLINE/PubMed database a thorough search using the terms “acute coronary syndrome” and “Australia” identified 460 papers for review, excluding abstracts and adding “rural”, “metropolitan”, “reperfusion”, and “outcomes” to this search narrowed the results to 149 papers for review. Data was also extracted from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and other Australian government publications. The review draws on insights from both local and international resources and seeks to provide an understanding of the contemporary landscape of ACS in both rural and metropolitan Australia.
The review is broken down into three key sections:
An outline of the 2011 National Heart Foundation of Australia/Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (NHF/CSANZ) guidelines and adjuvant tools used in the assessment and treatment of ACS, and to what extent these guidelines have been implemented clinically.
An exploration of the current landscape of ACS in Australia and identification of the disparities facing rural populations compared to those in metropolitan areas.
Discussion of the factors that are resulting in poorer outcomes for ACS sufferers and suggestions of novel approaches towards addressing these factors.
Disparities exist between the management and outcomes of rural and metropolitan populations experiencing ACS. While the causes of these discrepancies are multifactorial; the onus is on the healthcare system to effectively reduce associated morbidity and mortality. Improvements in the management of ACS may be achieved through a continued reduction in call-to-needles time via the use of remote and mobile thrombolysis services as well as improvements in in-hospital risk assessment in order to flag and investigate those at risk of ACS.
PMCID: PMC3973927  PMID: 24719650
ACS; rural; metropolitan; Australia; outcomes
8.  Education for practitioners and patients 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2013;6(12):724-726.
PMCID: PMC3877856  PMID: 24391685
9.  Modern microbiology – a quiet revolution with many benefits 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2013;6(7):378-381.
In the clinical microbiology laboratory, classical culture and identification methods are rapidly giving way to molecular techniques with many benefits for clinicians and patients. Building on the discovery of the structure of DNA and the genetic code, four main scientific advances have been made which underpin these techniques (hybridisation probes, polymerase chain reaction, the observation that the microbial species signature can be read in the ribosomal genes and also in the proteins). Early discoveries have paved the way for new diagnostic methods, which are rapid, highly sensitive and specific. Automation has provided high throughput for large numbers of clinical specimens combined with reasonable cost. The benefits for the clinician and patient include confirmation of clinical diagnoses and information about antimicrobial susceptibility within hours compared to days for conventional methods. In resource-poor settings, molecular techniques and automated systems may seem unaffordable but new public-private partnerships, initiatives by the World Health Organization and new, innovative laboratory methods offer the promise of benefit for all.
PMCID: PMC3737761  PMID: 23940500
Microbiology; molecular methods; resource-poor
12.  Electronic discharge summary driving advice: Current practice and future directions 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2013;6(8):419-424.
Driving is a complex task. Many older drivers are unaware of their obligation to inform authorities of conditions which may impact upon their driving safety.
This study sought to establish the adequacy of driving advice in electronic discharge summaries from an Australian stroke unit.
One month of in-patient electronic discharge summaries were reviewed. A predetermined list of items was used to assess each electronic discharge summary: age; gender; diagnosis; relevant co-morbidities; deficit at time of discharge; driving advice; length of stay; and discharge destination.
Of 41 participants, the mean age was 72 years. Twenty patients had a discharge diagnosis of stroke, nine of transient ischaemic attack, four of seizure and one of encephalitis. Of these, only eight discharge summaries included driving advice.
The documentation of driving advice in electronic discharge summaries is poor. This has important public health, ethical and medico-legal implications. Avenues for future research are explored.
PMCID: PMC3767912  PMID: 24066020
Aged; automobile driving; patient discharge; seizure; stroke
13.  Risk factors for under-nutrition among children aged one to five years in Udupi taluk of Karnataka, India: A case control study 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2012;5(3):163-167.
Despite her apparent economic success, India is plagued by a high burden of under-nutrition among children under five. This study was aimed at understanding some of the risk factors for under-nutrition in a region with favourable maternal and child health indicators.
A case control study was carried out among children aged one to five years attending the paediatric outpatient department in six rural health care centres in Udupi taluk of Karnataka in Southern India. A total of 162 children were included in the study, of which 56 were cases. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to interview the caregivers of the children and the nutritional status was graded according to the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) grading of protein-energy malnutrition.
Under-nutrition was associated with illness in the last one month [OR– 4.78 (CI: 1.83 –12.45)], feeding diluted milk [OR–14.26 (CI: 4.65 – 43.68)] and having more than two children with a birth interval ≤2 years [OR– 4.93 (CI: 1.78 – 13.61)]. Lack of exclusive breast feeding, level of education of the caregiver and environmental factors like source of water did not have an association.
Childhood illness, short birth interval and consumption of diluted milk were some of the significant contributory factors noted among this population. Information, Education, Communication (IEC) campaigns alleviating food fads and promoting birth spacing is needed.
PMCID: PMC3433731  PMID: 22952561
Under-nutrition; childhood illness; breast feeding; birth interval; food fads
14.  Provision of opioid substitution therapy services in Australian pharmacies 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2011;4(4):210-216.
Opioid dependence, despite being the subject of significant public funding, remains a costly burden to Australian society in human and economic terms. The most cost-effective public health strategy for managing opioid dependence is opioid substitution therapy (OST), primarily through the use of methadone or buprenorphine. Supervised dispensing of OST from specialist clinics and community pharmacies plays a crucial role in enhancing compliance, monitoring treatment and reducing diversion. Australia, compared with other countries in the world, ranks very high in illicit opioid use; hence there is a great demand for OST.
The utilisation of community pharmacies for stable patients has many advantages. For public clinics, patient transfer to community pharmacies relieves workload and costs, and increases capacity for new OST patients. From a patient’s perspective, dosing at a pharmacy is more flexible and generally more preferable. Pharmacists stand to gain clientele, profit and receive small incentives from state governments in Australia, for their services. Yet, many “unmet needs” exist and there is a high demand for more involvement in OST service provision in community pharmacy in Australia.
In the UK there has been a steady increase in community pharmacy provision of OST, and pharmacists appear ready to provide further healthcare services to these patients.
The role of pharmacy in some countries in Europe, such as Germany, is less prominent due to their approach to harm minimisation and the complex, variable nature of OST provision across the European Union (EU). The provision of OST by pharmacists in the USA on the other hand is of lesser frequency as the healthcare system in the USA encourages detoxification clinics to handle cases of illicit drug addiction.
At a time when harm minimisation strategies constitute a topic of considerable political and public interest, it is important to understand the scope and variability of pharmacy involvement in drug policy in Australia. Hence, this review highlights the role of pharmacists in OST and explores the scope for expanding this role in the future.
PMCID: PMC3562900  PMID: 23393513
Opioid Substitution Therapy services; Australian pharmacies.
16.  Diabetic foot complications in a secondary foot hospital: A clinical audit 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2015;8(4):106-112.
Previous studies conducted in Australian hospital settings suggest high variability in assessments, investigations, and management of diabetic foot infections and poor adherence to widely accessible evidence-based protocols and guidelines. Diabetic foot complications require a multidisciplinary approach and often involve both medical and surgical teams during inpatient care.
The aim of this clinical audit was to better understand the scope of diabetes-related foot complications, evaluate whether current assessment and management strategies are in line with best practice guidelines, and to formulate future models of care.
A retrospective review of patients was carried out between 12 July 2012 and 11 July 2013. Recorded assessments of inpatient care, including risk factors, surgery, length of stay, interdepartmental referrals, and antibiotic administration were reviewed.
There were 24 admissions in 12 months (total patients n=19). Fifty-eight per cent of patients were admitted to the medical ward. More than one-quarter had evidence of osteomyelitis. While one patient required intensive care unit (ICU) management, there was no inpatient mortality. Two patients experienced significant delay to undergo initial surgical intervention presumably because of failed medical treatment. Clinical data was recorded poorly, especially regarding neuropathy, HbA1c, and clinical examination findings. Twelve per cent of patients did not undergo any follow-up. The average length of stay was 12 days. One-half of the cohort was not evaluated by the endocrinology department.
This audit highlights the need for improved care for patients with diabetic foot complications and better coordination among the multidisciplinary teams involved.
PMCID: PMC4422950  PMID: 26045720
Diabetes; ulceration; audit
17.  Current state of medical thromboprophylaxis in Australia 
Australia has two published national guidelines for general medical thromboprophylaxis (MT), but the two differ in detail and the basis for patient selection remains uncertain. Several aspects of current guidelines are controversial, as is the proposed design of a dedicated prescribing box in the National Inpatient Medication Chart.
To discuss and comment on the current standing of medical thromboprophylaxis in Australia.
We have marshalled literature known to us from our previous published research, and have applied this knowledge to discuss shortcomings, which, in our opinion, exist in current medical thromboprophylaxis practice, and to suggest solutions.
Australian guidelines are flawed because they are based on unsuitable evidence (incidence of subclinical thrombotic disease) and define eligibility broadly, such that about 80 per cent of patients are considered eligible. They urge that prescribers should “consider” prophylaxis without supplying an adequate basis for doing so. They do not provide grounds for assessing the balance between hazard (in the form of major bleeds) and benefit (thrombotic events avoided). Other clinical factors promoting unnecessary use of medical thromboprophylaxis include the use of age as a risk factor and proposed inclusion of a new DVT prophylaxis section in the National Inpatient Medication Chart (NIMC), which implicitly discourages non-prescription of prophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC3941577  PMID: 24611073
Thromboprophylaxis; low molecular weight heparin; risk factor analysis; medical patients; guidelines
18.  Comparing performance of Tabriz obstetrics and gynaecology hospitals managed as autonomous and budgetary units using Pabon Lasso method 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2013;6(12):701-707.
Considering governmental scrutiny and financial constraints in medicine, the need for improved performance, which can provide acceptable care for medical consumers, leads to the conduct of new managerial methods to improve effectiveness.
This study aimed to compare performance indicators of obstetrics and gynaecology teaching hospitals in Tabriz.
A longitudinal, retrospective study was conducted to compare performance indexes of Tabriz obstetrics and gynaecology teaching hospitals during 2010-2012. Al-Zahra is Tabriz’s central teaching hospital in obstetrics and gynaecology that is authorised under a board of trustees as an autonomous hospital and Taleghani hospital is managed under centralised administration. Study variables included: Average Length of Stay (ALOS), Bed Occupancy Rate (BOR), and Bed Turnover Ratio (BTR). The data was extracted via the Hospital Information Systems (HIS) within the hospitals' admission and discharge units. Pabon Lasso model was used to assess hospital performance. Data was analysed and graphs were plotted using the SPSS-17 software package.
According to study findings, overall ALOS in Al-Zahra hospital is 3.15 (2.15) days (1.88 (0.97) days for prenatal wards and 6.13 (0.97) days for neonatal wards) and ALOS in Taleghani Hospital is 3.37 (3.09) days (1.74 (0.14) days for perinatal wards and 5.96 (3.55) days for neonatal wards). In this regard, Al-Zahra hospital holds the maximum BOR with 86.92 per cent and the minimum BOR was attributed to Taleghani hospital at 68.44 per cent (P<0.001). Study findings indicate that BOR in neonatal wards is greater than prenatal wards. On the other hand, BOR in Al-Zahra is greater than Taleghani (P<0.001), whereas BOR trend shows an increasing pattern in both hospitals.
Results of this study showed that the performance of Al- Zahra Hospital is better than Taleghani Hospital. These two hospitals are similar in different aspects except Al-Zahra is under a board of trustees and Taleghani is not. We should also consider that Al-Zahra Hospital has more facilities than Taleghani.
PMCID: PMC3877853  PMID: 24391682
Performance; Obstetrics and Gynaecology hospital; Pabon Lasso; Administration Models; Autonomisation
19.  Predicting ICU admissions from attempted suicide presentations at an Emergency Department in Central Queensland 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2013;6(11):536-541.
Emergency medicine physicians and psychiatric staff face a challenging job in risk stratifying patients presenting with suicide attempts to predict which patients need intensive care unit admission, hospital admission or can be discharged with psychiatry follow up.
This study aims to analyse patients who were admitted to the intensive care unit or regular ward for suicide attempt, and the methods they employed in a rural Australian base hospital.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of patients who presented with suicide attempts to the Rockhampton Base Hospital Emergency Department, Queensland Australia from 1 September 2007 to 31 August 2009. Multivariate logistic regression was undertaken to identify risk factors for ICU and regular ward admission, and predictors of suicide method.
There were 570 patients presenting with suicide attempts, 74 of which were repeat suicide attempts. There was a 10- fold increase in the odds of intensive care unit or ICU admission (CI 1.45-81.9, p=0.02) for patients who presented with drug overdose. Increased age (OR=1.02, 95 per cent CI 1.00-1.03, p=0.05), drug overdose (OR=2.69, 95 per cent CI 1.37-5.29, p=0.004), and previous suicide attempt (OR=1.53, 95 per cent CI 1.03-2.28, p=0.03) were significantly correlated with hospital admission. Male patients (OR=2.76, 95 per cent CI 1.43-5.30, p=0.002) and Aboriginal patients (OR=3.38, 95 per cent CI 1.42-8.05, p=0.006) were more likely to choose hanging as a suicide method.
We identified drug overdose as a strong predictor of ICU admission, while age, drug overdose and history of previous suicide attempts predict hospital admission. We recommend reviewing physician practices, especially safe medication, in suicide risk patients. Our study also highlights the need for continued close collaboration by acute care and community mental health providers for quality improvement.
PMCID: PMC3858606  PMID: 24348869
Suicide, Attempted; Drug Overdose; Emergency Care; Intensive Care; Utilisation
20.  Innovating for General Practice 
This editorial will consider the challenge of innovation for healthcare from three perspectives: the general practitioner (GP), the patient and the policy maker. The knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of each, respectively, are likely to affect the type of innovation adopted in practice. Each stakeholder has priorities and needs that must be reflected in the design and implementation of innovations.
PMCID: PMC3575065  PMID: 23424611
21.  The Business of Doctoring 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2012;5(6):329-333.
PMCID: PMC3395294  PMID: 22848332
Generalist; Doctor; Consultation; Interruption
22.  Prevalence of hypertension among the elderly Malays living in rural Malaysia 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2011;4(6):283-290.
We are living in an ageing world. The prevalence of hypertension which is an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke increases with age. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of hypertension among the elderly Malays living in rural parts of north Malaysia.
This cross-sectional study was conducted among the elderly (aged ≥60) Malay residents living in 22 villages in a northwestern state called Kedah in Malaysia from 2007 to 2009. Kedah has one of the highest rates of elderly population in the country. Data was collected by trained research assistants. Besides the baseline demographic information, blood pressure was measured using standardised methods using a manual sphygmomanometer.
The response rate was 97.7%. The prevalence of hypertension among the elderly in these villages was 54.5% (228), 118 (28.2%) were known to be hypertensive and were on medication and an additional 110 (26.3%) respondents were newly diagnosed. Elevated mean systolic (146.17 ± 25.23) and diastolic (89.68 ± 15.60) blood pressure was noted among the known hypertensive. There was an almost fourfold risk (OR 3.64) of having uncontrolled blood pressure among the known hypertensive on treatment. Those with malnutrition were at an almost twofold at risk of being hypertensive (OR 1.73). Binary logistics regression showed occupation (OR 1.65), marital status (OR 2.32) and body mass index (BMI) (OR 1.62) as significant predictor variables.
Screening the elderly for hypertension will benefit this group of people by reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with this condition
PMCID: PMC3562944  PMID: 23386889
Elderly; hypertension; rural; Malaysia
23.  A comparative drug utilisation study of the treatment of diabetes in Malaysia and Australia 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2015;8(6):179-188.
Once a disease of developed countries, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has become widespread worldwide. For people with T2DM, achievement of therapeutic outcomes demands the rational and quality use of medicine.
The primary aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of diabetes and prescribing patterns of anti-diabetic medications in Australia and Malaysia.
The most recent, publicly available, statistical reports (2004–2008) on the use of medicines published in Australia and in Malaysia were evaluated. Defined daily doses (DDDs/1,000 population/day) were derived from the reports and used to rank and compare individual drug use.
There was an increasing trend in the prevalence of diabetes in Australia, although there is a greater predicted increase in prevalence for Malaysia. While drugs used for the treatment of diabetes were not the most highly used drugs in Australia, their use increased during the study period, from 42.64 to 48.61 DDD/1,000/day. Anti-diabetic drugs were the most frequently dispensed class of drugs in Malaysia. Although the total consumption of anti-diabetic drugs in Malaysia decreased between 2006 and 2007 (from 40.30 to 39.72), this was followed by a marked increase to 46.69 in 2008. There was a marked reduction in the dispensing of insulin in Malaysia from 2004 to 2007 (7.77 to 3.23).
The use of drugs to treat diabetes does not reflect the usage patterns found in Australia. Effective drug use reviews are required to ensure impartial access in middle- and low-income countries.
PMCID: PMC4496718  PMID: 26213581
Utilisation; drugs; diabetes; Malaysia; Australia; insulin; metformin
24.  Neck of femur fracture management by general surgeons at a rural hospital 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2015;8(5):154-160.
Neck of femur (NOF) fractures are the most common injury among elderly patients and a significant burden on our healthcare system.
This study aimed toevaluate if an Australian rural hospital serviced by general surgeons can meet the established standards of care for the management of NOF fractures by undertaking surgery within 48 hours.
An audit of patients presenting to an Australian rural hospital with NOF fractures over a seven-year period. Patients were excluded if they were transferred or suffered peri-prosthetic or multi-trauma-related fractures. Outcomes included time to surgery, length of stay, and in-hospital mortality, and were compared to three similar Australian studies from hospitals with specialist orthopedic units. Descriptive statistics and meta-analysis were performed.
Overall, 182 patients presented with NOF fractures and 114 met our inclusion criteria. Only 12 per cent of patients were transferred. Patients were mostly female (74 per cent) and elderly (mean age 84.0 years). A total of 79 per cent of patients were operated on within48 hours; other studies reported 67–86 per cent. Mean length of stay was 11.9 days (versus 7.7–13.7), and in-hospital mortality was 4 per cent (versus 2–7 per cent).
This audit suggests that an Australian rural hospital serviced by general surgeons can meet the established standards of care for management of most NOF fractures. Some post-surgery outcomes are similar to those reported by larger centers with specialized orthopedics units.
PMCID: PMC4455026  PMID: 26097516
Neck of femur; hip fractures; hip surgery; rural health; aged care; health outcome
25.  Medicines shortages in Australia—the reality 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2014;7(6):240-242.
PMCID: PMC4082247  PMID: 25031644

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