This week, I sat down with Dr Anselm Wong, who amongst many other roles (ED Consultant, Tox Tweeter @AnselmWong1 and Toxicology Fellow at Austin Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria) is the Project Director for GETUP: Global Educational Toxicology Uniting Project.
GETUP is a new initiative, supported by the American College of Medical Toxicology that seeks to connect countries with established clinical toxicology services and countries without clinical toxicologists around the globe. GETUP uses videoconferencing via Google hangouts to connect registered sites on a monthly basis. Presently, sites have registered across the globe including but not limited to Melbourne (Austin Health), California, Fiji, London, South Africa, and Nepal.
JR: Anselm thanks for chatting to us about GETUP. What is GETUP in your own words?
AW: GETUP is an opportunity for centres that care for poisoned patients and have clinical toxicology services to connect with other centres around the world that may not have such services or see a different group of patients. There may also be variation in what is available to treat these patients e.g. haemodialysis. Our main aim is education and hopefully, this will lead to improvements in the management of poisoned patients in the long term. There are also opportunities for creating and expanding upon research collaborations across multiple centres and possibly contributing to infrastructure development in places where there are scarce health resources.
JR: Where did the idea originate from?
AW: Initially, we were approached by our Fijian counterparts to help improve their Toxicology service through sharing information via videoconferencing and case discussion. I am also involved with the ACMT (American College of Medical Toxicology) International Committee as a member and share their interest and passion for expanding global collaboration in the field of Medical Toxicology.
JR: What does GETUP involve? What happens at the ‘coal-face’?
AW: We organise meetings on a regular basis, say monthly for an hour, where we discuss cases (many of which are posted out earlier, either in full or as a topic for discuss) throughout the session. Summary points are given at the end and centres are welcome to bring their own cases to the meeting. In the long-term, we hope that this will change the way in which doctors manage poisoned patients in their own hospital and where resources may be scarce; investigate possible alternatives that could lead to better patient outcomes such as improving the process of supportive care. The analogy that I use is baking a cake. You can just bake a simple sponge with a thin layer of icing- which is what GETUP could have been with a focus solely on shared case discussion. You can eat that, get a bit of a high from it and then feel empty afterwards. Alternatively, you can make a cake with multiple layers that will leave you feeling full at the end of the meal. In other words, collaborating and sharing information regarding multiple aspects of Medical Toxicology that will hopefully lead to long-term change and not just short-term gratification.
JR: Can you give an example of how some sites are collaborating?
AW: For example, our pilot site at Austin Hospital runs a monthly meeting with California (Fresno Toxicology Service) and multiple sites in Fiji. We have active case discussion with all sites contributing cases of interest where we can share opinions, advice and discussion around how management can take place in light of available resources. We evaluate these conferences and continually aim to improve upon what we are already doing. It helps us too, we are able to build on our own knowledge and further improve our own education skills. For example, teaching that paraquat is not an organophosphate or that oral ethanol (from your local shop) can be used in toxic alcohol ingestion in lieu of intravenous ethanol rather than relying on supportive care alone. In the latter example, this can significantly influence patient outcome.
JR: If a potential site is interested in getting involved, what should they do?
AW: They can go to our website (http://www.acmt.net/GETUP.html) and register their interest. They can email us via links on the page or even tweet me (@AnselmWong1) with any questions they may have
JR: Thanks Anselm and good luck with GETUP