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Torture ; 31(1): 37-52, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1450937


INTRODUCTION: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Freedom from Torture developed remote telephone assessments to provide interim medico-legal reports, ensuring people could obtain medical evidence to support their asylum claim. METHOD: To audit this new way of working, feedback was collected from the doctors, interpreters, individuals being assessed, and senior medical and legal staff who reviewed the reports. This paper presents findings from the first 20 assessments. RESULTS: Individuals assessed reported that the doctor developed good rapport, but in 35% of assessments reported that there were some experiences they felt unable to disclose. In 70% of assessments, doctors felt that rapport was not as good compared to face-to-face. In the majority of assessments, doctors were unable to gain a full account of the torture or its impact. They reported feeling cautious about pressing for more information on the telephone, mindful of individuals' vulnerability and the difficulty of providing support remotely. Nevertheless, in 85% of assessments doctors felt able to assess the consistency of the account of torture with the psychological findings, in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol (United Nations, 2004). Factors that hindered the assessment included the inability to observe body language, the person's ill health, and confidentiality concerns. CONCLUSION: This research indicates that psychological medico-legal reports can safely be produced by telephone assessment, but are more likely to be incomplete in terms of both full disclosure of torture experiences and psychological assessment. The limitations underline the need for a follow-up face-to-face assessment to expand the psychological assessment as well as undertake a physical assessment.

COVID-19/epidemiology , Physician-Patient Relations/ethics , Refugees/psychology , Remote Consultation/ethics , Telephone , Torture , Humans , Medical History Taking , Pandemics , Physical Examination , SARS-CoV-2 , United Kingdom/epidemiology
Intern Med J ; 51(2): 189-198, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1102028


BACKGROUND: The first case of corona virus disease (COVID-19) was detected in South Australia on 1 February 2020. The Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) is the state's designated quarantine hospital. AIM: To determine the characteristics, outcomes and predictors of outcomes for hospitalised patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) within the RAH. METHODS: We performed a retrospective audit of 103 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who were discharged from the RAH between 14 February and 21 May 2020. We collected demographic, clinical and laboratory data through an audit of electronic medical records. The main outcome measures were: (i) the need for oxygen supplementation; (ii) need for intensive care unit (ICU) care; and (iii) death in hospital. RESULTS: The median age of patients was 60 years (range 19-85). A total of 55 (53%) patients was male. All patients were independent at baseline; 37 (36%) patients suffered from hypertension. Cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and diabetes were present in fewer than 19 (18%) patients. Obesity was present in 24 (23%) patients; 39 (38%) patients required supplemental oxygen, 18 (17%) required ICU care and 4 (4%) patients died. Older patients were significantly more at risk of oxygen requirement (median 68 vs 57.5 years, P < 0.01), ICU admission (median 66.5 vs 60 years, P = 0.04) and death (median 74.5 vs 60 years, P = 0.02). We did not find a statistically significant association between gender, body mass index and poor outcomes. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was the only parameter at admission associated with oxygen requirement, ICU care and death. Peak LDH, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, C-reactive protein and neutrophil lymphocyte ratio were significantly associated with oxygen requirement, ICU admission and death (P < 0.05 for all of the above laboratory markers). CONCLUSIONS: Although our sample size was small, we found that certain comorbidities and laboratory values were associated with poor outcomes. This occurred in a setting where care was not influenced by limited hospital and intensive care beds.

COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/therapy , Hospitalization , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Humans , Intensive Care Units , Male , Middle Aged , Retrospective Studies , South Australia/epidemiology , Young Adult
Intern Med J ; 51(1): 42-51, 2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-944728


BACKGROUND: On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization recognised clusters of pneumonia-like cases due to a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). COVID-19 became a pandemic 71 days later. AIM: To report the clinical and epidemiological features, laboratory data and outcomes of the first group of 11 returned travellers with COVID-19 in Australia. METHODS: This is a retrospective, multi-centre case series. All patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection were admitted to tertiary referral hospitals in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. RESULTS: The median age of the patient cohort was 42 years (interquartile range (IQR), 24-53 years) with six men and five women. Eight (72.7%) patients had returned from Wuhan, one from Shenzhen, one from Japan and one from Europe. Possible human-to-human transmission from close family contacts in gatherings overseas occurred in two cases. Symptoms on admission were fever, cough and sore throat (n = 9, 81.8%). Co-morbidities included hypertension (n = 3, 27.3%) and hypercholesterolaemia (n = 2, 18.2%). No patients developed severe acute respiratory distress nor required intensive care unit admission or mechanical ventilation. After a median hospital stay of 14.5 days (IQR, 6.75-21), all patients were discharged. CONCLUSIONS: This is a historical record of the first COVID-19 cases in Australia during the early biocontainment phase of the national response. These findings were invaluable for establishing early inpatient and outpatient COVID-19 models of care and informing the management of COVID-19 over time as the outbreak evolved. Future research should extend this Australian case series to examine global epidemiological variation of this novel infection.

COVID-19/epidemiology , Adult , Australia/epidemiology , COVID-19/therapy , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Patient Discharge , Retrospective Studies , Tertiary Care Centers , Young Adult