Medical Education - Research Publications
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Intravenous midazolam-droperidol combination, droperidol or olanzapine monotherapy for methamphetamine-related acute agitation: subgroup analysis of a randomized controlled trial
AIM: To examine the efficacy and safety of (1) midazolam-droperidol versus droperidol and (2) midazolam-droperidol versus olanzapine for methamphetamine-related acute agitation. DESIGN AND SETTING: A multi-centre, randomized, double-blind, controlled, clinical trial was conducted in two Australian emergency departments, between October 2014 and September 2015. PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred and sixty-one patients, aged 18-65 years, requiring intravenous medication sedation for acute agitation, were enrolled into this study. We report the results of a subgroup of 92 methamphetamine-affected patients. INTERVENTION AND COMPARATOR: Patients were assigned randomly to receive either an intravenous bolus of midazolam 5 mg-droperidol 5 mg combined, droperidol 10 mg or olanzapine 10 mg. Two additional doses were administered, if required: midazolam 5 mg, droperidol 5 mg or olanzapine 5 mg, respectively. MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome was the proportion of patients sedated adequately at 10 minutes. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (ORs, 95% CI) were estimated. FINDINGS: The baseline characteristics of patients in the three groups were similar. At 10 minutes, significantly more patients in the midazolam-droperidol group [29 of 34 (85.3%)] were sedated adequately compared with the droperidol group [14 of 30 (46.7%), OR = 6.63, 95% CI = 2.02-21.78] or with the olanzapine group [14 of 28 (50.0%), OR 5.80, 95% CI = 1.74-19.33]. The number of patients who experienced an adverse event (AE) in the midazolam-droperidol, droperidol and olanzapine groups was seven of 34, two of 30 and six of 28, respectively. The most common AE was oxygen desaturation. CONCLUSION: A midazolam-droperidol combination appears to provide more rapid sedation of patients with methamphetamine-related acute agitation than droperidol or olanzapine alone.
Low-dose rituximab and concurrent adjuvant therapy for pemphigus: Protocol and single-centre long-term review of nine patients
Pemphigus is an autoimmune B-cell mediated blistering disease associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Rituximab has proven effective for the treatment of steroid-refractory pemphigus, although there is controversy over the optimum dosing protocol. Additionally, effective disease control often requires long-term immunosuppression, even in disease-free periods. We present a case series of a single-centre long-term follow up of nine patients with pemphigus, treated with two 500-mg doses of rituximab separated by 14 days along with concurrent adjuvant therapy. In all these patients, low-dose rituximab resulted in B-cell depletion, along with a reduction in blistering disease. Three of these patients required repeat dosing cycles due to either relapsed disease or incomplete disease control following the first dosing cycle, and have remained disease free up to 154 weeks thus far. Six patients developed minor infections during the course of their treatment, but no major complications were observed.
Cystatin C estimated glomerular filtration rate and all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality risk in the general population: AusDiab study
AIMS: Uncertainties about the role of cystatin C-based estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in the prediction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) beyond traditional CVD risk factors remain. We assessed contributions of eGFR to CVD and mortality in the general population. METHODS: Using 14 year follow-up data on 9353 adults without a reported history of CVD from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study, we assessed the contributions of eGFR (assessed by cystatin C (eGFRcysC ) and serum creatinine (eGFRcr ) and albuminuria (uACR) to total and CVD mortality. RESULTS: After adjusting for age, sex, CVD risk factors and uACR, compared with an eGFRcysC >90 mL/min per 1.73 m2 , eGFRcysC <60 mL/min per 1.73 m2 was associated with 56% and 73% increases in the risks for all-cause and CVD mortality, respectively. The respective changes for the c-statistic when eGFRcysC was added to a risk prediction model were 0.003 (95% confidence interval: 0.001 to 0.005) and 0.002 (95% confidence interval: -0.001 to 0.006). The net proportion of non-events assigned a lower-risk category significantly improved with the addition of eGFR (non-event net reclassification index eGFRcr : 1.0% and eGFRcysC : 1.5%) for all-cause mortality, but for CVD mortality, improvements were only significant when eGFR was combined with uACR. The net proportion of events assigned a higher-risk category was not significantly improved. CONCLUSION: In our community-based cohort, reduced eGFRcysC was associated with all-cause and CVD mortality. The addition of chronic kidney disease measures to risk prediction models improved overall risk stratification among those at low risk as opposed to those at high baseline risk of mortality.
TANGO - a screening tool to identify comorbidities on the causal pathway of nocturia.
OBJECTIVES: To develop a robust screening metric for use in identifying non-lower urinary tract comorbidities pertinent to the multidisciplinary assessment of patients with nocturia. METHODS: Variables having a significant risk association with nocturia of greater than once per night were identified. Discriminating items from validated and reliable tools measuring these comorbidities were identified. A self-completed 57-item questionnaire was developed and a medical checklist and pertinent clinical measures added. Pre-determined criteria were applied to retain or remove items in the development of the Short-Form (SF) screening tool. The tool was administered to 252 individuals with nocturia who were attending either a tertiary level Sleep, Continence, Falls or Rehabilitation service for routine care. Data collected were subjected to descriptive analysis; criteria were applied to reduce the number of items. Using pre-determined domains, a nocturia screening metric, entitled TANGO, was generated. The acronym TANGO stands for Targeting the individual's Aetiology of Nocturia to Guide Outcomes. RESULTS: The demographic characteristics of the sample are described, along with item endorsement levels. The statistical and structural framework to justify deleting or retaining of items from the TANGO Long-Form to the SF is presented. The resultant TANGO-SF patient-completed nocturia screening tool is reported. CONCLUSIONS: A novel all-cause diagnostic metric for identifying co-existing morbidities of clinical relevance to nocturia in patients who present across disciplines and medical specialties has been developed. TANGO has the potential to improve practice and smooth inequalities associated with a siloed approach to assessment and subsequent care of patients with nocturia.
Suspected atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome in two post-partum patients with foetal-death in utero responding to eculizumab
BACKGROUND: Atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS) is a rare condition with the triad of microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia, thrombocytopenia and acute kidney injury. Other conditions that present in a similar manner peri-partum include thrombotic thrombocytopaenic purpura, and pregnancy associated conditions including HELLP syndrome (haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets), severe pre-eclampsia and less commonly acute fatty liver of pregnancy. CASE REPORTS: We describe two cases of suspected aHUS, who presented post-partum with foetal death-in-utero at 33 and 37 weeks respectively. Both presented with the triad features of aHUS but had considerably different clinical courses. The first case required a prolonged ICU admission, needed intubation for neurological deterioration and dialysis for acute kidney injury, and developed complications including acute liver failure, septic shock, pancreatitis, and ischaemic colitis. Initial ADAMSTS13 activity was borderline-low (10.3%) and normal on repeat testing (42.6%), and there was no peri-partum pre-eclampsia. The other case remained clinically stable throughout her admission with creatinine peaking at 495, not requiring dialysis, minor liver transaminases derangement and was discharged after a week. Her ADAMSTS13 activity was normal (62%), and her pregnancy was complicated by peri-partum pre-eclampsia. Both eventually had a reduction in haemolysis with rapid and sustained reduction in LDH and normalised platelet counts, and complete recovery of renal function whilst receiving eculizumab therapy. CONCLUSIONS: It can be difficult to distinguish aHUS from other causes in peri-partum patients presenting with features of microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia, thrombocytopenia and acute kidney injury, and often, aHUS can be precipitated by pregnancy. In the setting of the clinical urgency to treat aHUS early with eculizumab, this presents a diagnostic challenge, as confirmatory tests for aHUS are not immediately available.
Spinal infections in older people: an analysis of demographics, presenting features, microbiology and outcomes
BACKGROUND: Clinical features of infection can become more atypical as we age. Spinal infections can be insidious, and timely diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent adverse outcomes. AIMS: To explore differences in presentation and outcomes between younger and older patients with bacterial spinal infections. METHODS: Clinical, microbiological and radiological information was collected for patients with spinal infections (spondylodiscitis, vertebral osteomyelitis, septic discitis, facet joint septic arthritis and spinal epidural abscess) at a single metropolitan hospital between January 2008 and January 2015. Patients were excluded if they were under 18 years of age or if clinical and imaging findings were inconsistent with the diagnosis. Presenting features, investigations and outcomes were compared for patients ≥65 (older) or <65 (younger) years old. RESULTS: Of 53 identified patients, 34 (64%) were classified as older, with more males in both older (65%) and younger (79%) groups. Older patients presented later (median symptom duration 13 vs 4 days, P = 0.016). Back pain was nearly ubiquitous. Older patients presented less commonly with fevers (38 vs 63%) and rigors (24 vs 42%) but more commonly with hypotension (18 vs 5%), delirium (24 vs 11%), higher median inflammatory marker levels and variable microbiological findings, although these differences were not statistically significant. They had longer median lengths of stay (24 vs 14 days) and a higher likelihood of death or failure of medical treatment (HR 9.34, P = 0.031). Radicular pain was associated with poor outcome (HR 3.29, P = 0.046). CONCLUSION: Older patients with spinal infections present later, with higher inflammatory markers and fewer typical infective symptoms and signs; these may contribute to poorer outcomes. A low threshold for promptly investigating older patients with new or worsening back pain should be set.
Breast milk polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with adolescent allergic disease and lung function
BACKGROUND: It has been hypothesized that n-3 PUFA in breast milk may assist immune and lung development. There are very limited data on possible long-term effects on allergic disease and lung function. The aim was to investigate associations of n-3 and n-6 PUFA levels in colostrum and breast milk with allergic disease and lung function at ages 12 and 18 years. METHODS: Polyunsaturated fatty acids were measured in 194 colostrum samples and in 118 three-month expressed breast milk samples from mothers of children enrolled in the Melbourne Atopy Cohort (MACS) Study, a high-risk birth cohort study. Associations with allergic diseases, skin prick tests and lung function assessed at 12 and 18 years were estimated using multivariable regression. RESULTS: Higher levels of n-3 but not n-6 PUFAs in colostrum were associated with a trend towards increased odds of allergic diseases, with strong associations observed for allergic rhinitis at 12 (OR = 5.69[95% CI: 1.83,17.60] per weight%) and 18 years (4.43[1.46,13.39]) and eczema at 18 years (9.89[1.44, 68.49]). Higher levels of colostrum n-3 PUFAs were associated with reduced sensitization (3.37[1.18, 9.6]), mean FEV1 (-166 ml [-332, -1]) and FEV1 /FVC ratio (-4.6%, [-8.1, -1.1]) at 12 years. CONCLUSION: Higher levels of colostrum n-3 PUFAs were associated with increased risks of allergic rhinitis and eczema up to 18 years, and sensitization and reduced lung function at 12 years. As residual confounding may have caused these associations, they should be replicated, but these results could indicate that strategies that increase maternal n-3 PUFA intake may not aid in allergic disease prevention.
Case-control study to investigate variables associated with incidents and adverse events in the emergency department
OBJECTIVE: To detect and analyse incidents (Is) and adverse events (AEs) in the ED. We hypothesised that I/AE are associated with patient load. METHODS: We undertook a case-control study in a tertiary level hospital ED (from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013). Three percent of patients were randomly selected and screened for I/AEs. I/AEs were adjudicated by consensus of four FACEMs. Controls were matched to cases 2:1. Logistic regression was used to analyse the data. RESULTS: We sampled 2167 patients. After exclusions, 217 I/AEs were detected and analysed. The I and AE rates were 6.0 and 4.1%, respectively. The serious AE rate was 0.8% and 30 day mortality was 0.1%. Diagnostic error occurred in 3.7% of all patients and adverse drug reactions in 2.5%. Seventy-seven percent of the I/AEs were judged preventable. ED occupancy of <35 patients was the reference group. Compared with this group, if 36-40 or 41-45 patients were in the ED, I/AEs were more likely to occur (odds ratio [OR] 2.37 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.40-4.01, P < 0.0] and 1.8 [95% CI 1.03-3.15, P = 0.04], respectively) but not when there were >46 patients (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.0-3.1). Higher hospital occupancy (90-99%) was a protective factor for sustaining an I/AE (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.35-0.92, P = 0.02). CONCLUSION: I/AEs are common in the ED and a large proportion is preventable. Strategies for prevention are required. The relationship with patient load needs further clarification, since our data suggests increased I/AE rates with higher occupancy but not highest occupancy.
Timely initiation of chemotherapy: a systematic literature review of six priority cancers - results and recommendations for clinical practice
This review evaluated the association between time-to-chemotherapy (TTC) and survival in six priority cancers. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken for papers indexed in the MEDLINE and Cochrane Library databases from the earliest index until April 2014. The methodology used has been published in a separate paper (Guidelines for timely initiation of chemotherapy: a proposed framework for access to medical oncology and haematology cancer clinics and chemotherapy services). The optimal timing of chemotherapy in breast cancer is unclear as available studies are of low quality, report inconsistent results and are limited to the adjuvant setting. However, increased TTC may have a negative prognostic impact, and delays beyond 4 weeks should be avoided. Studies suggest that the optimal timing for initiation of adjuvant chemotherapy for surgically resected colorectal cancer is 4-8 weeks post-surgery. Timing of chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer does not influence survival. There is a paucity of studies to guide the timing of chemotherapy for the treatment of lymphoma and myeloma; no definitive conclusions can be drawn, and clinician discretion should be applied. The optimal timing of chemotherapy in lung cancer is unclear; however, rapid tumour growth and poor disease prognosis suggest that delays should be avoided wherever possible. The optimal timing of chemotherapy in ovarian cancer is unclear as available studies are of low level, report inconsistent results and are limited to the post-surgery setting; however, increased TTC may have a negative prognostic impact; therefore, delays beyond 4 weeks should be avoided.
Aceruloplasminaemia: a disorder of diabetes and neurodegeneration
Aceruloplasminaemia is an autosomal recessive disorder of iron metabolism which is characterised by diabetes, neurodegeneration and anaemia. It should be considered in the differential diagnosis of adult onset, antibody-negative diabetes associated with persistent mild anaemia and hyperferritinaemia and/or progressive neuropsychiatric impairments.
Five-year efficacy and safety of tenofovir-based salvage therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis B who previously failed LAM/ADV therapy
BACKGROUND: Multidrug-resistant HBV continues to be an important clinical problem. The TDF-109 study demonstrated that TDF±LAM is an effective salvage therapy through 96 weeks for LAM-resistant patients who previously failed ADV add-on or switch therapy. We evaluated the 5-year efficacy and safety outcomes in patients receiving long-term TDF±LAM in the TDF-109 study. METHODS: A total of 59 patients completed the first phase of the TDF-109 study and 54/59 were rolled over into a long-term prospective open-label study of TDF±LAM 300 mg daily. RESULTS: Results are reported at the end of year 5 of treatment. At year 5, 75% (45/59) had achieved viral suppression by intent-to-treat analysis. Per-protocol assessment revealed 83% (45/54) were HBV DNA undetectable. Nine patients remained HBV DNA detectable, however 8/9 had very low HBV DNA levels (<264IU/mL) and did not meet virological criteria for virological breakthrough (VBT). One patient experienced VBT, but this was in the setting of documented non-compliance. The response was independent of baseline LAM therapy or mutations conferring ADV resistance. Four patients discontinued TDF, one patient was lost to follow-up and one died from hepatocellular carcinoma. CONCLUSIONS: Long-term TDF treatment appears to be safe and effective in patients with prior failure of LAM and a suboptimal response to ADV therapy. These findings confirm that TDF has a high genetic barrier to resistance is active against multidrug-resistant HBV, and should be the preferred oral anti-HBV agent in CHB patients who fail treatment with LAM and ADV.
In-training assessments: 'The difficulty is trying to balance reality and really tell the truth'
BACKGROUND: In-training assessments (ITA) aim to evaluate trainees' progress and give valuable feedback on their performance. Many factors can affect supervisors during their completion of assessments and these can influence the final results recorded. METHODS: This is the second part of a study of supervisors of the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) and presents the qualitative data on their opinions of the ACD ITA process and the influences on their ITA ratings. RESULTS: Supervisors noted the benefits of this assessment tool, together with many limitations. Potential influences upon supervisor ratings included the relationship between the supervisor and trainee and the level of honesty in completing and delivery of the assessment. CONCLUSIONS: Many factors influence supervisors in the completion of the ITA. These include the impact of interpersonal relationships and concerns about the consequences of delivering a negative assessment, which sometimes lead supervisors to modify the assessment they deliver to the trainee. Further research is needed into honesty in assessment judgements.
Infliximab vs. adalimumab in Crohn's disease: results from 327 patients in an Australian and New Zealand observational cohort study
BACKGROUND: Maintenance anti-tumour necrosis factor-α (anti-TNFα) treatment for Crohn's disease is the standard of care for patients with an inadequate response to corticosteroids and immunomodulators. AIM: To compare the efficacy and safety of infliximab and adalimumab in clinical practice and assess the value of concomitant immunomodulator therapy. METHODS: We performed an observational cohort study in consecutive patients with Crohn's disease qualifying for anti-TNFα treatment in Australia and New Zealand between 2007 and 2011. Demographic and clinical data were prospectively recorded to identify independent factors associated with induction and maintenance of response to infliximab or adalimumab, or to either anti-TNFα therapy. RESULTS: Three hundred and twenty-seven patients (183 infliximab, 144 adalimumab) successfully applied for treatment. Eighty-nine percent responded in all groups and median maintenance of response was similar for the two agents. Concomitant immunomodulator with infliximab, but not adalimumab, demonstrated a significantly longer response overall (P = 0.002), and significantly fewer disease and treatment-related complications (P = 0.017). Corticosteroids at baseline, and/or in the preceding 12 months, were associated with a 9-13 times greater risk of disease flare during maintenance treatment as compared to no corticosteroids (P < 0.0001). Maintenance of response was similar in the anti-TNF naïve and anti-TNF experienced subgroups. CONCLUSIONS: In this large, real-life study, we demonstrate infliximab and adalimumab to have similar response characteristics. However, infliximab requires concomitant immunomodulator to achieve optimal maintenance of response comparable to adalimumab monotherapy. The results of this study will assist clinicians in further optimising patient care in their day-to-day clinical practice.
Knowing how we know: an epistemological rationale for the medical humanities
CONTEXT: Although their inclusion in medical curricula internationally is increasing, the medical humanities still face challenges to their role and place in the curriculum. Justifications supporting the inclusion of humanities content, methods and perspectives in medical curricula have generally been proposed along instrumental, intrinsic and critical lines. However, recent literature in the field has turned to 'ways of knowing' as representing an alternative, essentially epistemological, perspective on the matter. This involves the claim that the medical humanities align with and promote characteristic ways of understanding and practising medicine, which are not adequately represented in traditional disciplinary frameworks. DISCUSSION: Such epistemological arguments aim to move beyond generic claims of medicine as both an 'art' and a 'science' to explore the way in which the humanities support the ultimate objectives of a medical education, particularly in relation to claims about requisite knowledge and typical reasoning. Not only can this help focus attempts to identify and document relevant learning or clinical outcomes, but it can potentially uncover evidence from education outcomes research which may not have been the focus of previous inquiry in the medical humanities and which may in fact be associated, at least in part, with curricular activities formally associated with humanities disciplines. CONCLUSIONS: An epistemological view of the humanities in medical education offers a significant new way of conceptualising and communicating the potential role of the humanities in medical training. If clinical practice can be characterised as rational but interpretive, partly predictable yet fundamentally uncertain, and logical but also intuitive, it follows that educational training should facilitate such ways of knowing and thinking. An epistemological perspective enables the argument that the medical humanities are valuable not because they are more 'humane', but because they help constitute what it means to think like a doctor.
From paperwork to parenting: experiences of professional staff in student support
CONTEXT: For academic staff, responding to student concerns is an important responsibility. Professional staff, or non-academic staff who do administrative work in medical schools, are often the first to be approached by students, yet there is little research on how they manage student issues. Informed by the conceptual framework of emotional labour, we examined the experiences of professional staff, aiming to identify theoretical and practical insights for improving the provision of student support. We examined the scope of support provided, the impact of providing this support on staff and how these impacts can be managed. METHODS: Professional staff at two medical schools were invited to participate in semi-structured qualitative interviews. Interviews were transcribed and independently analysed for emergent themes. Data analysis continued with purposive sampling for maximum variation until thematic saturation was reached. Findings were returned to participants in writing and via oral presentations for member checking and refinement. RESULTS: Twenty-two female staff from clinical, teaching and commercial backgrounds at nine urban and rural teaching sites were interviewed. Participants described providing support for diverse concerns, from routine requests to life-threatening emergencies. Four major themes emerged: firstly, all described roles consistent with emotional labour. Secondly, student support was regarded as informal work, and not well recognised or defined. Consequently, many drew upon their personal orientation to provide support. Finally, we identified both positive and negative personal impacts, including ongoing distress after critical events. CONCLUSIONS: Professional staff perform a range of student support work, leading to emotional, personal and work impacts. In turn, they need support, recognition and training in this essential but under-recognised role. Emotional labour offers a conceptual framework for understanding the gendered nature and impact of this work and how it may be managed. We suggest practical strategies for promoting positive and preventing negative effects on staff from supporting medical students.
The impact of CACNA1C gene, and its epistasis with ZNF804A, on white matter microstructure in health, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder1.
Genome-wide studies have identified allele A (adenine) of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1006737 of the calcium-channel CACNA1C gene as a risk factor for both schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD) as well as allele A for rs1344706 in the ZNF804A gene. These illnesses have also been associated with white matter abnormalities, reflected by reductions in fractional anisotropy (FA), measured using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We assessed the impact of the CACNA1C psychosis risk variant on FA in SZ, BD and health. 230 individuals (with existing ZNF804A rs1344706 genotype data) were genotyped for CACNA1C rs1006737 and underwent DTI. FA data was analysed with tract-based spatial statistics and threshold-free cluster enhancement significance correction (P < 0.05) to detect effects of CACNA1C genotype on FA, and its potential interaction with ZNF804A genotype and with diagnosis, on FA. There was no significant main effect of the CACNA1C genotype on FA, nor diagnosis by genotype(s) interactions. Nevertheless, when inspecting SZ in particular, risk allele carriers had significantly lower FA than the protective genotype individuals, in portions of the left middle occipital and parahippocampal gyri, right cerebellum, left optic radiation and left inferior and superior temporal gyri. Our data suggests a minor involvement of CACNA1C rs1006737 in psychosis via conferring susceptibility to white matter microstructural abnormalities in SZ. Put in perspective, ZNF804A rs1344706, not only had a significant main effect, but its SZ-specific effects were two orders of magnitude more widespread than that of CACNA1C rs1006737.
Synaptic Zn2+ and febrile seizure susceptibility
Zn2+ , the second most prevalent trace element in the body, is essential for supporting a wide range of biological functions. While the majority of Zn2+ in the brain is protein-bound, a significant proportion of free Zn2+ is found co-localized with glutamate in synaptic vesicles and is released in an activity-dependent manner. Clinical studies have shown Zn2+ levels are significantly lower in blood and cerebrospinal fluid of children that suffer febrile seizures. Likewise, investigations in multiple animal models demonstrate that low levels of brain Zn2+ increase seizure susceptibility. Recent work provides human genetic evidence that disruption of brain Zn2+ homeostasis at the level of the synapse is associated with increased seizure susceptibility. In this review, we have explored the clinical, functional and genetic data supporting the view that low synaptic Zn2+ increases cellular excitability and febrile seizure susceptibility. Finally, the review focuses on the potential of therapeutic Zn2+ supplementation for at risk patients.
Students today ... educators tomorrow
BACKGROUND: The article describes the use of the mini clinical examination (mini-CEX) in a pilot study to introduce peer assessment in one allied health programme to explore students' capacity as clinical educators. Preparing today's pre-professional health students to be clinical educators by engaging them in peer teaching, learning and assessment may encourage them to become tomorrow's clinical educators. CONTEXT: Peer assessment is common among many undergraduate medical and allied health programmes, and is typically used as a means of providing students with feedback on their clinical skill development. We argue that peer assessment ought to be focused not only on the development of learners' clinical skills and knowledge, but also on preparing learners for their responsibilities as clinical educators. INNOVATION: Final-year Australian osteopathy students in our on-campus university clinic undertook, without training, peer assessment and provision of feedback related to clinical performance using a discipline-specific adaptation of the mini-CEX. The current study suggests that students are able to judge another's consultation skills and case management in that they identify what we know are common learning issues for students at this level. Peer assessment ought to be focused on preparing learners for their responsibilities as clinical educators IMPLICATION: Students may be willing to engage in peer assessment if they see the exercise as a way to improve patient care and to develop their skills as educators - potentially encouraging them to become clinical educators in the future.
Accuracy and safety of ward based pleural ultrasound in the Australian healthcare system
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Ultrasound has been shown to improve the accuracy and safety of pleural procedures. Studies to date have been performed in large, specialized units, where pleural procedures are performed by a small number of highly specialized physicians. There are no studies examining the safety and accuracy of ultrasound in the Australian healthcare system where procedures are performed by junior doctors with a high staff turnover. METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of the ultrasound database in the Respiratory Department at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to determine accuracy and complications associated pleural procedures. RESULTS: A total of 357 ultrasounds were performed between October 2010 and June 2013. Accuracy of pleural procedures was 350 of 356 (98.3%). Aspiration of pleural fluid was successful in 121 of 126 (96%) of patients. Two (0.9%) patients required chest tube insertion for management of pneumothorax. There were no recorded pleural infections, haemorrhage or viscera puncture. CONCLUSION: Ward-based ultrasound for pleural procedures is safe and accurate when performed by appropriately trained and supported junior medical officers. Our findings support this model of pleural service care in the Australian healthcare system.
Are deficits in cognition associated with psychotic-like experiences after cannabis?
Not all individuals who smoke cannabis report psychotic-like experiences. Given that risk factors for psychotic disorders are multifaceted, precipitating factors to psychotic-like experiences after cannabis are likely to be equally complex. Reduced neurocognitive performance is associated with both psychosis risk and cannabis use. Therefore, it is possible cognitive performance may differentiate those who report psychotic-like experiences after cannabis from those who do not. We determined whether those reporting psychotic/dysphoric experiences after cannabis had reduced neurocognitive performance compared to those reporting primarily euphoric experiences. METHODS: Participants were recruited on the basis of responses to the cannabis high captured by the Psychosis-Dysphoric and Euphoric experiences subscales from the Cannabis Experiences Questionnaire (CEQ). RESULTS: Compared to participants reporting primarily euphoric cannabis experiences (n = 36; 44% male; mean age (SD) = 28 (9) years), those who reported psychotic/dysphoric experiences (n = 40; 45% male; mean age (SD) = 26 (5) years) demonstrated significantly faster responses to a trial and error learning task. In the presence of distracters, those with psychotic/dysphoric experiences after cannabis made more errors on a Continuous Performance Task. CONCLUSIONS: Those who report psychotic/dysphoric experiences after cannabis have subtle inefficiencies in their cognitive processes. The multiple factors which predict vulnerability to psychotic-like experiences after cannabis require further investigation.
The antiepileptic medications carbamazepine and phenytoin inhibit native sodium currents in murine osteoblasts
OBJECTIVE: Fracture risk is a serious comorbidity in epilepsy and may relate to the use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Many AEDs inhibit ion channel function, and the expression of these channels in osteoblasts raises the question of whether altered bone signaling increases bone fragility. We aimed to confirm the expression of voltage-gated sodium (NaV ) channels in mouse osteoblasts, and to investigate the action of carbamazepine and phenytoin on NaV channels. METHODS: Immunocytochemistry was performed on primary calvarial osteoblasts extracted from neonatal C57BL/6J mice and additional RNA sequencing (RNASeq) was included to confirm expression of NaV . Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were made to identify the native currents expressed and to assess the actions of carbamazepine (50 μm) or phenytoin (50 μm). RESULTS: NaV expression was demonstrated with immunocytochemistry, RNA sequencing, and functionally, with demonstration of robust tetrodotoxin-sensitive and voltage-activated inward currents. Application of carbamazepine or phenytoin resulted in significant inhibition of current amplitude for carbamazepine (31.6 ± 5.9%, n = 9; p < 0.001), and for phenytoin (35.5 ± 6.9%, n = 7; p < 0.001). SIGNIFICANCE: Mouse osteoblasts express NaV , and native NaV currents are blocked by carbamazepine and phenytoin, supporting our hypothesis that AEDs can directly influence osteoblast function and potentially affect bone strength.
The Australasian Psoriasis Collaboration view on methotrexate for psoriasis in the Australasian setting
The Australasian Psoriasis Collaboration reviewed methotrexate (MTX) in the management of psoriasis in the Australian and New Zealand setting. The following comments are based on expert opinion and a literature review. Low-dose MTX (< 0.4 mg/kg per week) has a slow onset of action and has moderate to good efficacy, together with an acceptable safety profile. The mechanism of action is anti-inflammatory, rather than immunosuppressive. For pretreatment, consider testing full blood count (FBC), liver and renal function, non-fasting lipids, hepatitis serology, HbA1c and glucose. Body mass index and abdominal circumference should also be measured. Optional investigations in at-risk groups include an HIV test, a QuantiFERON-TB Gold test and a chest X-ray. In patients without complications, repeat the FBC at 2-4 weeks, then every 3-6 months and the liver/renal function test at 3 months and then every 6 months. There is little evidence that a MTX test dose is of value. Low-dose MTX rarely causes clinically significant hepatotoxicity in psoriasis. Most treatment-emergent liver toxicity is related to underlying metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Alcohol itself is not contraindicated, but should be limited to < 20 gm/day. [Correction added on 6 January 2017, after first online publication: '20 mg/day' has been corrected to '20 gm/day'.] Although MTX is a potential teratogen post-conception, there is little evidence for this pre-conception. MTX does not affect the quality of sperm. There is no evidence that MTX reduces healing, so there is no specific need to stop MTX peri-surgery. MTX may be used in combination with cyclosporine, acitretin, prednisone and anti-tumour necrosis factor biologics.
Identifying and integrating patient and caregiver perspectives for clinical practice guidelines on the screening and management of infectious microorganisms in hemodialysis units
INTRODUCTION: The integration of patient and caregiver input into guideline development can help to ensure that clinical care addresses patient expectations, priorities, and needs. We aimed to identify topics and outcomes salient to patients and caregivers for inclusion in the Kidney Health Australia Caring for Australasians with Renal Impairment (KHA-CARI) clinical practice guideline on the screening and management of infectious microorganisms in hemodialysis units. METHODS: A facilitated workshop was conducted with 11 participants (patients [n = 8], caregivers [n = 3]). Participants identified and discussed potential topics for inclusion in the guidelines, which were compared to those developed by the guideline working group. The workshop transcript was thematically analyzed to identify and describe the reasons underpinning their priorities. FINDINGS: Patients and caregivers identified a range of topics already covered by the scope of the proposed guidelines and also suggested additional topics: privacy and confidentiality, psychosocial care during/after disease notification, quality of transportation, psychosocial treatment of patients in isolation, patient/caregiver education and engagement, and patient advocacy. Five themes characterized discussion and underpinned their choices: shock and vulnerability, burden of isolation, fear of infection, respect for privacy and confidentiality, and confusion over procedural inconsistencies. DISCUSSION: Patients and caregivers emphasized the need for guidelines to address patient education and engagement, and the psychosocial implications of communication and provision of care in the context of infectious microorganisms in hemodialysis units. Integrating patient and caregiver perspectives can help to improve the relevance of guidelines to enhance quality of care, patient experiences, and health and psychosocial outcomes.