A child receives care in a hospital bed

A new research centre based at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will be established to improve emergency hospital care for children across Australia and New Zealand.

The new Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Paediatric Emergency Medicine has received a total of $2.5 million in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) over the next five years and will begin operations in 2024.

As emergency department visits are the second most common healthcare contact point for children who are acutely ill or injured, there is a strong need to improve the experience and level of care children receive.

The new CRE in Paediatric Emergency Medicine will build on the Institute’s previous work which established the Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative (PREDICT), an emergency research network in Australia and New Zealand, and formed important collaborations with US and Canadian emergency networks.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Professor Franz Babl said the new CRE will target the conditions that cause children to visit the hospital frequently, including sepsis and acute respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

Professor Babl said, “The CRE in Paediatric Emergency Medicine will help tackle conditions not accessible through traditional study designs and data collection.

“Through the CRE, we aim to improve family input at all stages of the trial design and execution and improve translation plus tracking of changes in care.”

Over the next five years, the CRE in Paediatric Emergency Medicine will also fund the creation of a family-facing smartphone app for families for certain high-risk conditions and an emergency department-focused implementation toolkit that can be adapted for hospitals across Australia and New Zealand.

The app is expected to improve both communication to families and from families, including information about the emergency condition, escalation of care, use of the app to collect relevant data and post-discharge information and data collection.

The hospital implementation toolkit aims to improve, speed up and unify change in practice across hospitals. The CRE will use bronchiolitis as the sample condition, as many unnecessary and ineffective therapies are used in bronchiolitis treatment. Processes and materials developed in preceding studies will be used to develop a toolkit for use at tertiary and non-tertiary hospitals where the majority of paediatric emergency patients are seen.

The NHMRC funding will also develop Australia’s future workforce, training emerging leaders in emergency care through the creation of higher degree scholarships and postdoctoral opportunities. Through research and the implementation of best evidence, students and researchers within the CRE in Paediatric Emergency Medicine will be mentored across specialities and disciplines to become independent researchers who can improve the lives of all children who visit emergency departments.

*The content of this communication is the sole responsibility of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and does not reflect the views of the NHMRC. CRE grant number 2024601