Thursday, 2 October 2014

New research suggests treatment for sepsis in Australia and New Zealand is the best in the world

New research from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has found that patients with sepsis in Australia and New Zealand receive better treatment than in any other country.


The large-scale six-year study, led by the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre at School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, divided 1600 patients into two groups, who were admitted to emergency care with early stage sepsis from across more than 40 hospitals.

The first group of 796 patients received Early Goal Directed Therapy (EGDT), an aggressive treatment not currently used in Australia and New Zealand, which inserts a catheter into the jugular vein to monitor oxygen levels in the blood returning from the body to the heart.

The second group of 804 patients received the usual course of standard care given in Australia and New Zealand - a combination of rapid specialist-led care, powerful and immediate antibiotics and rapid resuscitation in either Emergency Departments or Intensive Care Units.

Previous studies found mortality rates for sepsis were as high as forty-six per cent, but were lowered to 30 per cent if EGDT was also used. Subsequently the therapy has been recommended globally and is endorsed by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign.

In contrast, the new study found that, in Australia and New Zealand, hospital mortality rates for both groups were close to 15 per cent – the lowest ever reported for this life threatening condition.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, sheds doubt on the reported effectiveness of EGDT because researchers found it did not make any noticeable different to survival rates.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Rinaldo Bellomo said one of the reasons for the high survival rates could be down to Australia and New Zealand’s healthcare systems.

“Australia and New Zealand have one of the longest and most scrutinised joint training programs in the world for doctors and nurses working in emergency and intensive care. Intensive care units routinely have one highly trained specialist nurse for each patient to maximise level of care and minimise cross infection and healthcare professionals have a reputation for collaboration and team work,” he said.

“We don’t know if these factors are responsible for the high survival rates, our next step is to carry out further work to determine this,” Professor Bellomo said.

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