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With so much happening, I (almost) forgot you!

Almost two months since I blogged last. Well there goes that commitment to put something up on a weekly basis!

Lots has happened. Let me see if i can remember…

A few days in Brisbane at QUT with my supervisor has resulted in a small, subtle but also significant change in my work. My initial plan of three studies remains:

  • Study 1 on variation in current HAI surveillance practices is firm, in fact in the ethics submission process and hope to be surveying ICP in the next month
  • Study 2 on Technology…GONE. Replaced with most of what was my original Study 3 – Identifying key components of a good HAI surveillance program. Done by semi structured interviews with experts both local and international, using the CDC Guidelines on Evaluating Public Health Surveillance Systems as the measuring tool
  • Study 3 – New to my life and not yet locked in – most likely a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) to determine what sort of surveillance system is best suited for Australia. Up until 3 weeks ago I had not heard of a DCE, but from my readings, and discussions with colleagues who are using them, it seems an appropriate method for my purpose. The fact it is quantitative is most attractive, and its application for this purpose will be novel (historically used for economics but now branching out). The alternative is using something like a Delphi method to identify preferences, but I need to find out more about it. That it is qualitative is less attractive to me as I’ll be doing enough Qual in Study 2.

So my recent weeks have been heavy with reading and learning about DCEs. Given this recent change in direction, I have pushed back my confirmation to mid July now. This will allow me time to clarify Study 3 and write up my confirmation document in time to submit 3 weeks prior. An afternoon session with my supervisor was extremely valuable and has helped clarify some direction. Without being too exuberant, and wary of using this word lightly, it was a bit of a (moderate) Eureka moment..!

Whilst at QUT, myself and the other PhD’s were involved (the subject of!) a brief video describing our projects to the CRE Chief Investigators. Hate seeing myself on video, but its done and will soon be out there!

This topic of HAI surveillance, (it’s not mine despite me often talking about ‘my topic’) is hot. So many want a piece, so many opinions…. Why didn’t I pick something less hot? Because I wanted to be in the mix now and later.. My choice and in knew it. There have been tenders put out for various bit of work on surveillance of MROs and ABU…we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile also picked up some part time work in Tassie with TIPCU which requires me to travel down occasionally, always great to go to lovely Hobart. And some HHA work continuing till end of June.. 

Hobart turned it on for me!




In the meantime my running is going well, all set for the 8km MDC in a couple of weeks, and working up to the half marathon in August. This picture is not taken in a little cove on the Mediterranean. This is my local Mentone beach on a recent spectacular day!



Some peoples brains…

I’m a slow reader, thinker and writer. I’d guess my reading is down towards the left end of the curve, the other two a little more right. Those who can think on their feet and talk at speed are impressive, but not as much as those with good brains. Evolution just dictates that some are smarter than others, and some peoples brains just work beautifully. At my sons debating not only do I enjoy the thinking of these adolescents, but occasionally a gem comes along and you just wonder where they will end up, what will they do with their impressive brain. To be a third speaker in debating is possibly the hardest task. To retort and summarise what you have witnessed in the preceding 40 minutes is clearly challenging. To do it sensibly and eloquently more so. So when a youngster comes along and sweeps the floor with logic, conviction and eloquence, you just go wow, and I did.

Scissors paper rock

First manuscript done, submitted. 

Its been a while since I first authored a paper (probably about 6-7 years in fact). Apart from the effort of writing, forgotten was the tedious hours of checking all the submission requirements, acknowledgements, declarations of conflict, funding sources, letter to the Editor, table legends on separate pages, uploading of files…etc. Makes for even more satisfaction on submission. Anyhow its in somebody else’s hands now, and we wait.

So now the attention turns to my first study, a close examination of current HAI surveillance practices in hospitals, and a description of any variation. This will be via a survey. So the construction of survey questions is my next challenge. So many ways to write a question! 

So many ways to write. What are the rules, is there a more efficient way to write? A blog led me to this book.Image

Clearly I’m not a Social Scientist, nevertheless there are some pearls of wisdom. On writing manuscripts, “the only version than counts is the last one”. Try to write “so clearly that no one could misunderstand”. I continue through this enjoyable read.

There is no shortage of helps. Graduate Rise continues to be a useful source, and came up with this little gem from Stephen Mumford, a nice succinct way to be brutal with writing…

Anyhow distractions are presenting, internet connections are breaking….



Fun at the Zoo with Clairy Browne and the banging raguettes!



An analysis of Victorian tweets  across a 3 year period suggests that Victorians are most happy when they are at sporting events or drinking coffee, and least happy when they are using public transport, according to Fairfax media. On the twitter map, my own little rail station is blurred by red, indicating lots of negative tweets, no surprise to me.

Is this useful information to me? How will I use it?

Thats the thing with social media I guess. There is so much information that I don’t need. The initial excitement of joining social media, making hundreds of friends, and following all your favourite celebs, sporting teams, colleagues and ‘real’ friends, simply results in a total influx of absolute crap that I don’t need to know. For a while I try to convince myself that, yes, I do want to know  how Shane likes his bolognese, and that guy I spoke to for 5 minutes at a conference 4 years ago and am never likely to meet again or collaborate with is a good friend and colleague. I don’t need a photo of some ‘friends’  kids first turd in the dunny. Every news bulletin, every article, every add, every presentation is accompanied by that little ‘#’ or the ‘F’ and somehow an overwhelming feeling of must have as I attempt a mental note. Eventually I start being introduced to friends of friends wanting to know if I want be be friends, and receiving tweets from those who I’ve never heard of or followed.

Its too much.

Consequently the I have commenced de-friending and unfollowing. A cathartic experience. I will select carefully who I follow. As for that other media, I simply don’t trust it, I don’t quite know what happens to any information I put up there, how come I see photos of people I don’t know, but they suggest I might know? Who will see what I put up? Im sure there are answers to all these questions on support sites, in threads, discussion pages, blogs etc but frankly I don’t have time to find them, I don’t care. I don’t need the information provided from these sites. Word is that media won’t last beyond 2017, and I shudder to think what will be in its place.

I guess the moral of the story is, just as it is important to cast the net to find all the information, with all these electronic sources, these days it can take longer to remove the crap.

Having said all, I did tweet a pic yesterday. A laugh at the expense of media. Is the media accountable? A scholar must literally die establishing sources of information, if they don’t they subsequently die through crucifixion! Probably we know not to take the media too seriously, which means ignoring their influence.

This gem below came through on the nightly news bulletin in Melbourne. Did they not ask for the correct title. Was it not sufficient to put ID Physician, Professor, Infection Prevention expert? Any of these would have been suitable. But no, they manufactured their own word…


Happy New year and all that….

So it was a tweet that led me to this blog, Three Reasons Why Blogging Helps Research Productivity, which in turn has brought me back to my blog….The good Professor blogs 1000-2000 words twice a week. It helps him write better, and he believes it has made him a better researcher. So, if it works for him….worth a try. Maybe not that much writing, or that regularly, but possibly half and half?

Where am I at with this PhD thing? My 6 month anniversary has just come and gone. I have stopped part time work, but will be picking it up again soon, and…

1. Close to a final draft of a manuscript. Surprisingly, but I shouldn’t be, it has taken me longer than planned, needed more detail that I’d thought, and generally, required much more effort when the idea was first sprouted. Anyhow, its close, hope to submit in the next 3-4 weeks – realistically.

2. Honoured to have been awarded the 2013 “Babe” Norman Scholarship from the Nurses Memorial Centre. As well as combatting some of the financial anxiety of full time study and a running a household a wee bit, it has educated me about the plight of nurses in war. Some of the stories are simply tragic and heroic.

3. Planning for my first study is well underway. Survey, vignettes and online tools are scattered across my desk.

4. Continuing to read on topics including: Diffusion of Innovation, How to write, and of course the journal articles directly relating to my study. I also really enjoy Dr Inger Mewburn, aka the Thesis Whisperer, prolific tweeter and blogger, who often leads me to interesting articles, many of which also get posted on the Graduate Rise. Some enjoyable, practical and helpful tips and thoughts from bloggers. Last night in Graduate Rise, reading about how to appear cleverer, (by IM) I came across this memorable quote “the plural of anecdote is not data”. That one is “going straight to the pool room”, and will be pulled out for display when appropriate!

5. My Confirmation is due in July. My plan is to have it done earlier. Between the months of May to July, our household will enjoy two 50th’s and a 21st. The suggestion to combine all into one big 121st wasn’t greeted enthusiastically by the younger though. So not sure what will ensue, but it will be nice to have the concerns about the Confirmation dealt with by then.

6. Of course, enjoyed the pleasures of the festive season. Good people, food and wine. Admittedly the wine went a little longer that the festive season itself. A week away on the coast during a week of over 40 celsius was sheer luck, but not overdue given recent family trips have been beset by rain, wind and storms.

Otherwise, from a typical return to school hot hot week in Melbourne, and with concerns about my Mac slowing down, Sente crashing several times yesterday (with no response from their support), and then decided to start working again….yes I have back up, hourly, in two different locations.

Well this is a start. Time to post.

Head down…

Been sometime since my last visit. I think the output has been ok, most likely average for somebody at my stage I guess. but when I look back and are noted to have commenced on 22 July, some 4.5 months ago, I fear some periods of time will pass too quick.

In brief, I did submit my Stage 2 documents. Received notification the faculty approved, and now awaiting a research committee (of sorts) for a final stamp. This means I’m (still) on my way!

I attended the IHBI Inspires conference. An impressive get together held by IHBI QUT as a showcase for its (mostly) PhD students. Some very smart young people presented. A guest spot from Tim McCartney Snape with some amazing pics of his Everest trek at the conference dinner was a privilege to listen to. I had forgotten he climbed frequently with Lincoln Hall whose stories I read many years ago, and who sadly passed away only recently. Anyhow, my poster on my project was proudly presented in the CRE-RHAI colours and theme together with my colleagues, and if nothing else, we looked the best! It was great to catch up with the others and hear about their journeys.

I have a bit of a work plan for the next few months. Seems strange writing, that as you might think I should have the whole 3 years mapped out, which I sort of do, but this is a bit more task/goal oriented. The distractions of Xmas, New Years, school holidays, warm summery weather and beach activities will no doubt qualify feelings of guilt on low output days! Two main activities; the production of a paper on the back of my lit review from my Stage 2, and the development of a questionnaire for my first “Variation” study. The manuscript is well on the way, but I need to gather some more detail, and I have written some questions, but hoping to look at some similar work that has gone before me.

I think I found a framework to lay across everything I do. It will be born from the diffusion of innovation literature, and so I have some reading to do in that area too!

I have three more days of paid employ left. By Xmas, I will be unemployed, or in a more positive spin, a full time student. I will still need some part time work next year.

I continue to familiarise myself with various tools I will be using over the next few years, and slowly but surely my touch typing is improving….

The size of the task ahead is dawning upon me and gathering momentum. The reality of family financial challenges is imminent. The path ahead is mapped, the obstacles are looming if hazy.

Pics below, a sign in my Brisbane hotel room, an example of a hole in the cheese and my poster…ImageImage


ACIPC Conference 2013 Talk

Hope you enjoyed my presentation at the ACIPC Conference 2013 on some of the aspects I’ll be looking at over the next three years in my PhD.

To view my presentation online click on this Prezi link

I have listed the references used in the presentation below.

Of course please feel free to make any comments or contact me via email at

Edmond MB. National and International Surveillance Systems for Nosocomial Infections. In: Wenzel RP, editors. Prevention and Control of Nosocomial Infections. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2003. p. 109-19.

Tanner J, Padley W, Kiernan M, Leaper D, Norrie P, Baggott R. A benchmark too far: findings from a national survey of surgical site infection surveillance. Journal of Hospital Infection. 2013;83:87-91.

McBryde ES, Brett J, Russo PL, Worth LJ, Bull AL, Richards MJ. Validation of statewide surveillance system data on central line-associated bloodstream infection in intensive care units in Australia. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. November, 2009;30:1045-9.

Keller SC, Linkin DR, Fishman NO, Lautenbach EM. Variations in Identification of Healthcare-Associated Infections. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. 2013;34:678-86.

Brigand G et al. Agreement among Healthcare Professionals in Ten European Countires in Diagnosing Case-Vignettes of Surgicla Site Infections. PLoS ONE July 2013;8 (7).

Lin MY, Hota B, Khan YM, Woeltje KF, Borlawsky TB, Doherty JA, et al. Quality of traditional surveillance for public reporting of nosocomial bloodstream infection rates. JAMA. November 10, 2010;304:2035-41.

Evans RS et al. Computer Surveillance of hospital acquired infections and antibiotic use. JAMA 1986;256(8): 791-801.

van Mourik MSM, Troelstra A, van Solinge WW, Moons KGM, Bonten MJM. Automated Surveillance for Healthcare-Associated Infections: Opportunities for Improvement. Clinical Infectious Diseases. July 1, 2013;57:85-93