Patient monitoring data methods in rural and remote health settings should be improved, says CQU researcher

07 March 2023

Research by CQUniversity Master of Health Science student and Bundaberg emergency department registered nurse Wendy Augutis has found that patient monitoring data collection in rural and remote regions is facing peculiar challenges when compared to the larger metropolitan hospitals.

Published recently in the Australian Journal of Rural Health, Wendy’s paper looked at how nurses use early warning system vital signs observation charts in rural, remote, and regional health care facilities.

“Patient deterioration in hospitals frequently occurs prior to an adverse event or death. This is potentially preventable as abnormal vital signs are frequently identifiable 24-36 hours prior to such an event,” Wendy said.

“My research evaluated how we monitor patients in rural and remote regions, more particularly in Queensland.”

She said the research was important as while there is a lot of data on how nurses monitor patients in larger city hospitals, there is very little data in rural and remote regions.

“This is particularly significant given that smaller hospitals do not have medical emergency teams and the staff manage acutely unwell patients themselves,” she said.

“The challenge is to identify those patients that will deteriorate so we can transfer them to the larger city or metropolitan hospitals.”

She said her research, which entailed a literature review, found that: inconsistent or inaccurate documentation led to failure to identify patients at risk; that effective communication within the teams facilitates compliance; and that rural and remote regions face many challenges that need to be addressed, including staff shortages.

Wendy said she conducted the research while balancing the responsibilities of her job, and a health scare of her own.

“There were many challenges. The processes were new to me, my IT skills were non-existent at the start, but I had great support from my supervisors, Tracy, Elaine and Danielle,” she said.

“On top of all this I was diagnosed with a cerebral aneurysm in October 2021. I had surgery at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital to have a stent implanted in my internal carotid artery with coiling inserted in my para ophthalmic aneurysm.”

Wendy has achieved a great deal since completed a STEPS course at CQU in 2000.

“I went on to complete a Bachelor of Biomedical Science in 2003, then graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2011,” she said.

“My thesis is a Masters in Research thesis which I commenced in 2018 and took four years to complete. It has now been through the review process and has been approved and finalised. I will graduate this December.”

A significant achievement for someone who came to Australia from Belgium when she was eight years old and left school at 15.

When asked what she planned to do next she said she wasn’t sure, but was dedicated to her role as a health professional.

“I am passionate about health science, the biochemistry of nutrition and its role in optimal human health,” she said.

“The main purpose of research is to inform action, gather evidence for theories and contribute to developing knowledge in a field of study.”

She hoped a well-earned break would help her find focus.

“Currently I am working in the clinical setting, both public and private in Bundaberg, teaching Diploma of Nursing students at TAFE, and a casual employee with CQU, teaching residential schools for Bachelor of Nursing students and marking academic papers,” she said.

“I have always found CQU to be very supporting of its students. The greatest advantage is that students in regional areas such as Bundaberg have the opportunities offered by larger universities in cities, meaning students can remain in their hometown without the expense of travelling to the city.”

READ the journal article HERE