10 May 2023

Cape findings could be a game changer for state's remote communities

| Matt Nicholls
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Dr Donna Franklin with Napranum’s Lily York, who is mum to 7-month-old Jenovia York-Charger

A PILOT study launched in the Cape could soon help improve childhood respiratory treatment and reduce unnecessary medical transfers.

Paris on Country is a new study being launched by Queensland’s world-leading Paediatric Acute Respiratory Intervention Studies (PARIS) program.

It is led by chief investigator Dr Donna Franklin and aims to cut the number of children being transferred away to city hospitals by up to 50 per cent.

“Based on the evidence from two world-first clinical trials –PARIS I and II – we now understand when it is best to place an infant or child on nasal high-flow therapy and when to use standard oxygen as a first line oxygen therapy,” she said.

High-flow oxygen therapy, which provides increased oxygen to patients via a nasal cannula, is rarely available in remote areas and up to 50 per cent of all patients are transferred to city hospitals for a higher level of care than they may actually need.

“This causes emotional stress for children and families, unnecessary load on emergency departments, and huge transfer costs for the state,” said Dr Franklin.

“Paris on Country will develop and implement a respiratory care training package to help rural and remote clinicians decide when to escalate treatment and when to seek specialist advice via telehealth.

“By providing local clinicians with the tools, education and information they need, we hope to see a positive change for these sick children.”

Dr Donna Franklin with 5-year-old patient Molly Forbes at Weipa Hospital.

The resource and training pack is based on evidence from the world-first Paris trials which were led by Dr Andreas Schibler, a researcher at Queensland’s Wesley Research Institute and a world leader in paediatric acute respiratory medicine and intensive care.

The pilot study is currently running at Weipa, Cooktown and Thursday Island hospitals, under PhD candidate Sally West from James Cook University.

“This is a service parents in remote communities are desperate to see introduced,” said Ms West.

“Having a child with breathing difficulties is stressful, but needing to transfer them away from country can be devastating, particularly for Indigenous families.”

The pilot study is now being expanded to 18 rural and remote hospitals across the Torres and Cape, Townsville, North West, and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Services.

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