Medical students in the Longlook program at Griffith University have identified issues that may lead to better guidelines for country doctors and their patients.

The student researchers are based at five Queensland rural hospitals.

Arianne Kollosche, currently in her third year of medicine at Griffith has been involved with an unprecedented study of paediatric presentations at the Emergency Department (ED) at Dalby Hospital.

“The preliminary data suggest that a significant number of babies and children are being brought to the ED when they would be better served by their family GP,” she says.

“In a hospital setting, paediatric consultation generally takes longer than an adult consultation but it’s not all about wasting hospital resources. “Taking children to hospital for non- urgent issues also interferes with the continuity of care they get if they’re seen by their own doctor.”

Arianne says the Dalby study also looked at agricultural injuries and found that fractures, lacerations and motorbike accidents are top of the list of cases seen in the ED, rating just below upper respiratory tract infections.

“We really need to compare these percentages to those at metropolitan hospitals and explore the feasibility of improved health and safety awareness campaigns to help prevent these injuries in farming communities.”

Arianne believes the initial results have shown that the research merits further investigation and offers the opportunity to develop GP guidelines and education strategies to help country towns better manage health services.