Research focus on patient’s long term outcomes

A man wearing theatre scrubs stands in front of surgical equipment
Anaesthetist and Raine Clinician Research Fellow Dr Ed O’Loughlin
November 27, 2018

Undertaking research to ensure better patient outcomes is what drives Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) Anaesthetist Dr Ed O’Loughlin.

Dr O’Loughlin has seven anaesthesia related studies underway and said the style of perioperative research had changed over the years.

“Our focus in research has shifted over the past few years as we place more of an emphasis on what we can do to make a patient’s health outcomes better not only now, but in the weeks, months and years following their stay in hospital,” he said.

Under Dr O’Loughlin’s leadership as a principal investigator at FSH and on the National Health and Medical Research Council, the hospital is participating in a global, $4.6 million, 8880 participant trial called PADDI.

“We are looking at the effect of a very commonly used anti-nausea medication, Dexamethasone, and whether or not it contributes to patients getting infections after their surgery,” Dr O’Loughlin said.

“Half of the patients are being given this medication post-surgery to decrease swelling and make them feel better, but we don’t know if it is increasing the rates of infection, resulting in poorer outcomes.

“This study is a prime example of our change in research focus. A medication might make a patient feel better in the first 24 hours but make them worse a month to six months later.”

The impact of the work of the anaesthesia and pain research team can be felt not only by the individual patient, but also their family, the community and health service.

“We focus on those things that matter to patients, which include getting them back home and moving, as well as reducing delirium and complications,” Dr O’Loughlin said.

“Research is critically important for us to know whether our interventions are making a difference in the lives of patients.

“I am forever curious and enjoy challenging the status quo to find the best results for our patients.”

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