Jennifer Fishe, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, has received a prestigious federal grant to study ways to optimize emergency treatment of children with asthma.
The grant, a five-year National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute K23 award, is being used to understand if earlier administering of steroids by emergency medical service personnel — prior to emergency room arrival — improves outcomes for pediatric asthma patients. The study is also funded by UF’s Research Opportunity Seed Fund program.
“Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease and a leading cause of emergency visits, but there is little evidence and few guidelines on the best way for EMS to take care of pediatric asthma attacks in the ambulance,” Fishe said. “Because EMS operates in such a unique medical environment, specific prehospital research is needed, as every medication administered and procedure performed in the ambulance must be balanced against the need to quickly transport to an emergency department.”
Fishe and her colleagues have already enrolled more than 250 patients in the study. The goal is to enroll nearly 1,000 patients across seven sites over a three-year period to analyze clinical outcomes and costs of EMS’ steroid administration, and how both vary with EMS transport time.
The participants, who range in age from 2 to 18, had experienced an asthma attack for which 911 was called. Each patient is enrolled in one of the seven participating sites. Five of them are in the Florida counties of Lee, Leon, Nassau, Sarasota and Walton. One is in Houston and another is in Cincinnati.
“We're delighted to have such diverse representation from all over the state and country, including urban and rural areas, with a wide range of ambulance transport times,” said Fishe, the study’s principal investigator. “That may be a crucial component since steroids are a time-sensitive medication.”
UF personnel with the GeoPlan Center, the Department of Health Outcomes and Bioinformatics and the Center for Data Solutions are assisting with the study.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health, the primary federal agency responsible for biomedical and public health research.
Associate Medical Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine; Director, Center for Data Solutions