What if you could receive intravenous medications from home, giving you less time in hospital and the chance to get back to ‘regular life’ more quickly?

But while the equipment may exist to make this happen, how could you be assured your medication could be safely taken this way?

University of Tasmania Senior Lecturer in Pharmacological Science Dr Rahul Patel and his team of Master of Pharmaceutical Science students’ research includes testing the stability of medications to be administered intravenously from home.

And the results are quickly translating from ‘bench to bedside’ into life changing benefits for patients.

“A friend told me about his boss who was able to leave hospital early and intravenously take a medication at home which we had researched – just a month after our research results had been  published,” Dr Patel said.

That boss was Hobart local Lloyd Struwe, who found being able to safely administer his own intravenous medication at home through a small balloon called an elastomeric device, was a real positive during a long period of serious illness.

Life really returned to normal, my family didn’t have to think about visiting me in hospital for another four to eight weeks, it was one less bed taken up and a lot less chance of contracting another disease or infection while in hospital

Lloyd Struwe

“Recovery was the greatest asset to being at home, being able to go for walks and recuperate and returning to your family is good.”

While there are many elastomeric devices on the market, knowing which medications can be safely used in them is not a one size fits all solution.

“Different pharmaceuticals have different composition and requirements and can be exposed to different temperatures and light for example, as patients go about their daily routines,” Dr Patel said.

The team’s work has included testing antibiotics, anti-fungal agents, and is also looking into analgesics such as morphine and antivirals which can assist people living with HIV.

And with research international requests coming in from hospitals, clinicians and pharmaceutical companies and with new drugs frequently coming on the market as bacteria develops resistance to old antibiotics, the team is in high and ongoing demand.

The team is also currently testing the stability of antibiotics in peritoneal dialysis solutions, which allow patients requiring kidney dialysis to administer their treatment from home rather than in-hospital and to continue with everyday tasks during the process.

Another of the team’s research projects, in collaboration with the Royal Hobart Hospital, also aims to benefit neonatal babies.

The research is testing the stability of drugs and nutritional supplements essential to neonatal babies to be delivered intravenously through a Y-shaped connector, meaning only one intravenous outlet is needed in these tiny infant’s small veins.

We are working with real life problems and our work replicates exactly what happens in a clinical setting.

Dr Rahul Patel

"Even though the students only do their Master’s project for one year, the transformation from bench to bedside is quite significant with clinicians around the world picking up these results and patients benefiting quickly," Dr Patel said.

Dr Rahul Patel teaching Master's students

Coming to the University of Tasmania as an international student in 2004, Dr Patel sees his work as a way of ‘giving back’ for all he has received.

“I always tell my students that if you work hard, this is the land of opportunity,” he said.

About Dr Rahul Patel

Dr Patel is a lecturer in Pharmacological Sciences, Division of Pharmacy, School of Medicine. Since his appointment as a lecturer in December 2009, Dr Patel has made a significant contribution in learning and teaching at both under- and post-graduate level. Dr Patel's research has resulted in a significant practice change in professional/clinical practice and also assisted a number of healthcare professionals in the area of pharmaceutical formulations.

View Dr Rahul Patel's full researcher profile