ACU partnership develops life-saving protocols for stroke victims

Life-saving protocols developed in an ACU and St Vincent’s Health Australia Sydney’s Nursing Research Institute partnership are set to be introduced in more than 300 hospitals in 12 European countries.

These new protocols, which improved how nurses look after patients in the vital first 72 hours after stroke, are now used in all 36 NSW stroke services.

They have been highlighted as a stellar example of industry collaboration in Universities Australia's new magazine Clever Collaborations: The Strong Business Case for Partnering with Universities which shows how business, community organisations and governments are partnering with universities to solve complex challenges.

ACU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Wayne McKenna identified strategic collaborations as an opportunity for university expertise to augment industry objectives.

“These protocols are having a profound impact on outcomes for stroke patients across Australia and are evidence of the measurable benefit that research emerging from partnerships such as this can produce for society.”

Stroke patients face the highest risk of death in the days and weeks immediately following a stroke.

ACU researchers from the NRI worked with clinicians to develop new protocols for nurses and doctors to manage patients’ fever, raised blood sugar levels, and swallowing difficulties after a stroke.

When hospital staff followed the protocols – in a trial with 1600 patients at 19 NSW acute stroke units – 16 per cent more patients were still alive and independent three months after a stroke.

The work also involved researchers from The University of Newcastle, Western Sydney University, The University of Sydney, Prince of Wales Hospital - Randwick, Monash University, the University of Ottawa and The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Use of these protocols is now recommended in Australia’s stroke national guidelines.

The total cost of stroke in Australia is $5 billion a year to the health system and economy. There are more than 420,000 stroke survivors in Australia.  Many of them have profound health and mobility challenges.

Australia could save at least $281 million a year in healthcare costs if the protocols were followed for 65 per cent of eligible patients, according to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare.

The focus on ACU’s partnership with the St Vincent’s Health Australia Sydney comes as Universities Australia calls on more companies to collaborate with universities to increase engagement.

Universities Australia chair Margaret Gardner said boosting engagement with Australian universities could add $10 billion a year to Australia’s GDP.

“If you have a complex business challenge you haven’t been able to crack, come talk to an Australian university about how we can work together to solve it,” she said.

Professor Gardner will write to the heads of three major business peak bodies asking them to help spread the word in corporate Australia about the strong returns to business from such partnerships.


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