Treating patients with a highly infectious disease, such as COVID-19, requires effective procedures to prevent in-hospital transmission and to deliver critical care – and that’s exactly what Griffith University researcher, Dr Yoriko Kikkawa plans to address.
With her Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship, Dr Kikkawa will deliver a new simulator and online training program that integrates infection control protocols into Advanced Life Support.
This program will protect frontline workers from contracting infectious diseases and improve pandemic readiness for Queensland healthcare workers.
We caught up with Yoriko to learn more about this important research project.
Can you tell us more about your research project?
This project uses simulation training to examine how teams of doctors and nurses integrate COVID-19 protocols into existing practices, and how these protocols affect performance under pressure.
It will highlight any issues healthcare workers have with new procedures and equipment required in a pandemic environment.
From these insights, video-scenarios will be developed for a new pandemic ALS training program to help healthcare workers understand the competence required in emergency response scenarios.
The project will draw from previous studies in healthcare, civil aviation, defence and education sectors to develop the training framework.
It will help Queensland healthcare providers to upskill more workers for critical care situations in preparation for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 and future pandemics.
Critical to the success of the project are the facilities and expertise of Mater Education in Queensland, which is currently the only Australian affiliate of the internationally renowned Center for Medical Simulation in Boston.
What prompted your research?
Hospitals everywhere are adjusting their practices to manage COVID-19 outbreaks, and many non-critical care workers are on the frontline testing for coronavirus and caring for gravely ill patients.
Effective training that incorporates new infection protocols in clinical routines is now critical.
The team from the Griffith Institute for Educational Research (GIER) had been investigating airline pilot training for over a decade. In 2017, they began a collaborative study with Mater Education to improve simulation training in maternity emergency medicine.
In early 2020, Mater Education in Queensland recognised that many healthcare workers who trained in Advance Life Support (ALS) needed special training to manage COVID-19 patients and to prevent disease transmission.
Mater Education also stressed a need for online training programs to help upskill non-critical workers who could be called on to assist in ALS.
How will Queensland benefit from your Research Fellowship?
This research project will prepare frontline healthcare workers to work with highly infectious patients during pandemics.
It will help doctors and nurses improve infection control practices and reduce in-hospital transmission among staff and patients.
In-hospital transmission was a major source of infected patients (21% of the total cases) during the 2002–2004 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic. A similar, high rate has been reported in highly infected countries during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The research will benefit healthcare workers in Queensland’s regional areas where the medical capacity is limited, as well as other disciplines such as maternity care. It could be used to improve training programs for other responders to medical emergencies such as the Queensland Ambulance Service and the Royal Flying Doctor.
How has the Industry Research Fellowship helped you and your work?
I have been working with my team from the GIER investigating simulator training with airline pilots across the Tasman for over a decade. Since 2017, we have worked with Mater Education to apply this training in Maternity Emergency Medicine.
The Industry Research Fellowship has strengthened the existing University‒Industry partnership with Mater Education, allowing our team to apply their long-term simulation studies to new areas of critical care.
The Fellowship gives me the opportunity to apply my work to building Queensland’s pandemic capacity to prevent, prepare for, and respond to disaster events.