Major award for respiratory doctor

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Dr Graham Simpson

Dr Graham Simpson

A huge congratulations to Dr Graham Simpson, for being part of the research team that has received the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance 2021 Trial of the Year Award.

Dr Simpson, who is a respiratory specialist at Cairns Hospital, came up with the idea for a study into treatment of collapsed lungs more than a decade ago.

Each year, up to 3000 Australians suffer from a collapsed lung, when a leak from the surface of the lung causes air to collect inside the chest.

While this painful condition can be caused by underlying lung disease, it often occurs for no obvious reason.

Doctors have been putting tubes into people with collapsed lungs since the beginning of the 20th century to drain the collected air and help reinflate the lung.

This treatment is painful and can lead to organ injury, bleeding and infection. This landmark six-year study now makes it clear that conservative treatment, sending patients home with pain relief and waiting for the lung’s natural reinflation, is the best approach.

This research, which was a massive collaborative effort by 100 clinicians across both sides of the Tasman, will change national and international guidelines in years to come.

Dr Simpson said the study was inspired by challenging the dogma for many years.

“There was a suggestion from a scientific paper in the 1960s, that you didn’t need to use the tubes to treat collapsed lungs,” he said.

“We put this to the test, and it turned out we were right.

“It just goes to show that you don’t need to work in a big metropolitan hospital to have good ideas.

“You can start and instigate research anywhere, and that’s what I’m most proud of achieving here in Cairns.”