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Intensive Care gets nutritional boost

Intensive Care gets nutritional boost

More lives are likely to be saved, along with health dollars, as a result of a trans-Tasman project funded by money raised in last year's Intensive Care Appeal.

The two-year nutritional study is aimed at developing and implementing evidence-based practice guidelines in Intensive Care funded from money raised in New Zealand and Australia through the annual appeal run by the Australia and New Zealand Intensive Care Foundation (ANZICF).

The names of New Zealand Intensive Care (or Critical Care) Units are soon to be confirmed to participate in the study, led by Dr Gordon Doig - an expert in research into evidence-based practice guidelines for Intensive Care settings, based at the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney. The New Zealand part of the project will be funded using a portion of the $53,000 raised in 2002.

"All New Zealanders are potential candidates for our Intensive Care Units, and thus may benefit from this nutritional initiative, but the good thing about this particular project is that it will ultimately have wider application", said Fran Wilde, New Zealand Appeal Board Chair. "It is great to see that Kiwis have got behind the Appeal and helped make this project possible. We invited everyone who purchased our appeal wristband to be a "life supporter" and they have!"

Nutritional support is a standard part of the care for critically ill patients, although there is a range of opinion as to how it is best provided. Dr Doig's initiative will evaluate current methodology and develop better evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to improve the effectiveness of nutritional support in the critically ill. The study will be conducted across twenty-six Intensive Care units throughout New Zealand and Australian hospitals, currently being selected.

If the benefits of this project are similar to those demonstrated in a previous study conducted by Dr Doig in Canada, the result could be a reduction in hospital mortality by 13% and an average eight day reduction in the length of hospital stay per patient.

"The magnitude of such reductions is clinically meaningful and economically important", said Ms Wilde. "If the study's guidelines prove to be effective in improving patient outcomes, a bi-national strategy to promote and implement the guidelines across the ICUs and health systems of both New Zealand and Australia will be developed, leading to more human and financial savings.

"Australia and New Zealand are already world leaders in establishing a bi-national, centrally coordinated approach and shared findings into intensive care, and I urge Kiwis to get behind the appeal which can potentially lead to better health outcomes for all of us."

The annual Intensive Care Appeal raises money for specialized research projects to target the four main areas of Intensive Care - lung and brain injury, infection and overall prevention. As recently as fourty years ago there was no concept of intensive care. Today lives are being saved both by intensive care technology and by improving standards of the practice in Intensive Care medicine. The latter has been made possible by dedicated intensive care research and it is this aspect that the appeal supports.

Eighty five percent of intensive care patients survive, but professionals in the area believe that results can be improved with additional research and practice guidelines. The ANZIC Foundation is targeting a 2% improvement in survival, which would save 3,000 lives in New Zealand and Australia each year.

The 2003 New Zealand Intensive care Appeal is to be held 1-14 July. For the first time this year street day appeals will be conducted in selected centres with collectors dressed in hospital scrubs.

Donations come via individual and corporate benefactions, the 0900 donation line (0900 707 707) and from purchases of the colourful hospital wristbands and "heartbeat" bookmarks, which are sold during the appeal at ANZ Banks, Unichem and Dispensary First Pharmacies.

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