03:48am Tuesday 02 June 2020

A new approach to treating trauma

The multi-disciplinary team has adopted a new model in which researchers work side-by-side with paramedics, medical staff, allied health professionals and rehabilitation specialists.

Heading the Integrated Trauma Centre is orthopaedic surgeon Professor Michael Schuetz, Chair of Trauma at QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) and Director of Trauma at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).

“The highly comprehensive and integrated approach we are taking in trauma treatment hasn’t been tried before in Australia or as far as we know elsewhere in the world,” Professor Schuetz said.

“The medical profession is traditionally fractured, with paramedic, hospital, rehabilitation and injury prevention staff rarely working closely with each other, let alone with medical researchers.

“We’ve brought them all together under one roof and are finding that, by sharing medical and research knowledge at every step in a patient’s recovery, we can build a complete patient picture.”

The centre comprises experts from IHBI, PAH and The University of Queensland.

Patient treatment is focused on the evidence gathered by the centre’s research groups.

One research group is tackling bone defects in patients who have suffered severe open fractures.

“These patients have lost large amounts of bone – restoring the defects is very painful, time-consuming and costly, often requiring multiple surgeries,” Professor Schuetz said.

“We have medical experts, researchers and economists working on ways to replace the bone reliably with engineered scaffolds, which are loaded with various substitutes and cells that regrow the bone over a period of time.

“We are exploring those techniques, while at the same time comparing those results against the effectiveness and costs of traditional surgical methods.

“The potential benefits are significant for the patient – a faster recovery and a strong, well-formed bone.”

Professor Vivienne Tippett, a pre-hospital health expert at the trauma centre, understands how applying research to the roadside improves patient outcomes.

Evidence from research underpins the specialised training she gives intensive care paramedics.

These paramedics learn the latest trauma research through a specialised university course and regular professional development.

They then apply that evidence directly to on-the-job situations.

“We know patients suffering major trauma are 20 per cent more likely to reach the hospital alive if they are treated by an intensive care paramedic and that’s largely thanks to how they apply research to the emergencies they attend,” Professor Tippett says.

“Boosting a trauma patient’s survival rate to hospital is both an important social and economic issue.

“Queensland hospitals see about 17,000 trauma patients a year and we’ve estimated the economic and social costs of that are as much as $166.4 million annually.”

The Integrated Trauma Centre is one of the flagships of the Diamantina Health Partners (DHP), Queensland’s only academic health science centre.

Professors Tippett and Schuetz will discuss their work at the DHP’s Meeting of Minds forum on 1 May 2013.

The DHP is a partnership of leading health, education and research experts from QUT, PAH, Translational Research Institute, The University of Queensland, Mater Health Services, UQ Health Care, Metro South Mental Health and Inala Indigenous Health Service.

Launched in July 2011, the DHP focuses on implementing research discoveries and knowledge into healthcare delivery.

Images of Professors Schuetz and Tippett are available on flickr.

Media contact: Kate Haggman, QUT Media, 3138 0358 or [email protected]

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