Specialist Services for older Tasmanian patients

Monday, 10 June 2019 - 7:28pm

We have an aging population and we know that coordinated support for health and wellbeing in later years is vital. We’re helping to make that happen.

A local team is collaborating to deliver a specialist service at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) which aims to better assist older Tasmanian patients who have undergone trauma and/or emergency surgery and who are at high-risk of complications during their stay in hospital.

Working in general surgery at the RHH, Dr Noha Ferrah sees the need for this care every day and, with this motivation, she has been selected to lead the study. She has a long-held interest in trauma, stemming from her extensive travel and volunteer work.

“The gratification of treating and sometimes curing someone, and the special relationship that forms between a patient and their clinician, is something which I highly value.

“I want to prevent older patients from potentially going through a downward spiral following an accident or emergency operation. I’m aiming to work with others in supporting these people in regaining their functionality, and most importantly, their independence,” Dr Ferrah said.

Relevance to the Tasmanian Community

Between 200 to 250 patients aged 75 years and older are admitted to the Emergency Surgical Unit at the RHH each year. They experience higher rates of complications during their stay in hospital, and are therefore likely to benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to their care.

Moving Forward

With the support of a 2019 RHH Research Foundation Incubator Grant, Dr Ferrah and her colleagues are currently evaluating the need for an integrated geriatric medicine service at the RHH for older general surgery and trauma patients.

This vital project will look at the need for this service, initially by measuring the prevalence of kidney impairment, a common yet serious complication arising from older folk who have undergone general surgery and also amongst those who have experienced trauma.

Why we need your help?

Current research indicates that patients who are aged 70 years or over and who show advancing frailty have on average a two-fold risk of post-operative complications. The impact on quality of life for patients is evident and these complications can also result in significantly higher costs of care due to greater length of hospital stay, the need for rehabilitation, and discharge to institutions rather than home. Increased mortality can also be a consequence.

The Foundation’s purpose is to pursue better health for Tasmanians through research, but we can’t do this without your help. This Winter please consider if you can provide a gift that will support other persistent young researchers like Noha on their quest for better community health outcomes – it means so much to all of us.

EVERY DONATION OVER $2 is Tax Deductible!

Click HERE to find out how you can donate!