Tayside liver testing project recognised at Scottish Health Awards

MAIN Tayside liver testing project recognised at Scottish Health Awards

A Tayside team which developed a new type of test to detect liver disease at an early stage has been recognised at the prestigious Scottish Health Awards.

The multidisciplinary Intelligent Liver Function Testing Team picked up the Innovation Award at last night’s (Thursday) Scottish Health Awards, which is the latest of several prestigious accolades for the project.

Consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist Professor John Dillon and consultant in biochemical medicine Dr Ellie Dow worked with colleagues from NHS Tayside and the University of Dundee to develop the intelligent liver function tests (iLFTs) using the automated Blood Sciences laboratory infrastructure at Ninewells Hospital.

Other awards for the team this year include: 2019 NHS Tayside Gold STAR Award for Innovation in Practice; Innovation award at Royal College of Physicians’ Excellence in Patient Care Awards 2019; 2019 UNIVANTS of Healthcare Excellence Award; Frontline Gastroenterology Prize for the ‘Best patient benefit in gastroenterology and hepatology’; Innovation Award at the Royal College of Pathology Excellence Awards 2019; and Highly Commended in the Digital Innovation category of the BMJ Awards 2019.

Professor Dillon said, “It’s really nice for the hard work of the team to be recognised with this award.  This development is now in routine use across Tayside with over 2500 patients benefiting.  It is popular with GPs and we are hopeful it will be taken up by other Health Boards in Scotland and healthcare institutions across the globe.”

Tayside was well represented at the Scottish Health Awards with six finalists across five of the 17 categories.  Other finalists were: senior clinical support worker Michael Carlin in the Unsung Hero and Support Worker categories; health services link worker Fiona McGrath in the Unsung Hero category; staff nurse Karyn Cooper for the Nurse Award; and speciality registrar Kirsty Wright for Global Citizenship.

Chief Executive of NHS Tayside Grant Archibald said, “This is a further award recognising the great work by the iLFT team and is a mark of their success in leading the way in improving patient care. I am extremely proud of them and indeed all of the finalists from Tayside and I would like to congratulate them on their achievements.”

Liver function is routinely investigated by testing blood samples requested by GPs.  Results commonly show abnormal liver function but this is often under investigated due to the many different and complex reasons for an abnormal result.  This misses the opportunity to diagnose and treat liver disease at an early stage.

Using advances in laboratory technology, Professor Dillon and Dr Dow’s team created the new iLFTs which see more tests automatically carried out on a patient’s blood sample if there is a suspected liver disorder or abnormal results with no clear explanation.

GPs receive the results along with 32 potential outcomes, making it easier to identify the cause of liver dysfunction and give a firm diagnosis.  This is complemented with lifestyle advice for those who need it, while those with advanced or complex disease are referred for further treatment.

Initial results from the iLFT trial showed a 44% increase in diagnosis of liver disease, giving patients earlier access to treatment.

Professor Dillon added, “By working with the existing IT systems in the lab, we were able to develop a system that detects the early warning signs of liver disease and which can then give GPs the tools they need to make a solid diagnosis and begin treatment plans.

“More importantly, our modification allows us to immediately differentiate between alcoholic or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the more rare diseases such as autoimmune liver diseases Hepatitis C or metabolic diseases, meaning those who need immediate assistance receive it faster.

“We hope that with continued tests, people drinking too much or eating high-fructose sugars can make the lifestyle changes now that will reduce the numbers coming into hospital with fatal liver failure in the years to come.”

MAIN Tayside liver testing project recognised at Scottish Health Awards (2)

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