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The Collaborative Emergency Centre (CEC) model of care was implemented in Nova Scotia without an identifiable, directly comparable precedent. It features interprofessional teams working towards the goal of providing improved access to primary health care, and appropriate access to 24/7 emergency care. One important component of CEC functioning is overnight staffing by a paramedic and registered nurse (RN) team consulting with an off-site physician. Our objective was to ascertain the attitudes, feelings and experiences of paramedics working within Nova Scotia’s CECs.
We conducted a qualitative study informed by the principles of grounded theory. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with paramedics with experience working in a CEC. Analysis involved an inductive grounded approach using constant comparative analysis. Data collection and analysis continued until thematic saturation was reached.
Fourteen paramedics participated in the study. The majority were male (n=10, 71%) with a mean age of 44 years and mean paramedic experience of 14 years. Four major themes were identified: 1) interprofessional relationships, 2) leadership support, 3) value to community and 4) paramedic identity.
Paramedics report largely positive interprofessional relationships in Nova Scotia’s CECs. They expressed enjoyment working in these centres and believe this work aligns with their professional identity. High levels of patient and community satisfaction were reported. Paramedics believe future expansion of the model would benefit from development of continuing education and improved communication between leadership and front-line workers.
Studies suggest that addressing the needs of the older population in rural areas may substantially reduce their low-urgency use of emergency medical services (LUEMS). It may ultimately also help improve the efficiency in our health system. There is, however, a dearth of evidence substantiating geographic patterns in LUEMS by different age cohorts. This exploratory study was aimed to clarify the understanding of emergency medical services (EMS) use in Nova Scotia through a geographic analysis.
Records with Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale of 4 and 5 were considered as LUEMS. We assessed the distribution of LUEMS incidence rates (proportion of LUEMS out of all EMS uses) by age and rurality, using descriptive statistics and Geographic Information Systems mapping.
Nearly half of all EMS transports were individuals of 65+ years of age; 35% of those were LUEMS. The rates increased along with the level of rurality, and the older cohort had the highest incidence rates in non-metro communities. High rates were seen primarily in some rural communities farthest away from the capital/tertiary care centre.
High LUEMS incidence rates are rural phenomena but not specific to the older population. However, the absolute number of LUEMS by the older cohort is significant, and elder-specific interventions in rural regions could still lead to effective cost savings. Further investigation of other factors, such as distance to the emergency department, availability of public transportation, and socioeconomic conditions of EMS users, is needed.
Offload delay is a prolonged interval between ambulance arrival in the emergency department (ED) and transfer of patient care, typically occurring when EDs are crowded. The offload zone (OZ), which manages ambulance patients waiting for an ED bed, has been implemented to mitigate the impact of ED crowding on ambulance availability. Little is known about the safety or efficiency. The study objectives were to process map the OZ and conduct a hazard analysis to identify steps that could compromise patient safety or process efficiency.
A Health Care Failure Mode and Effect Analysis was conducted. Failure modes (FM) were identified. For each FM, a probability to occur and severity of impact on patient safety and process efficiency was determined, and a hazard score (probability X severity) was calculated. For any hazard score considered high risk, root causes were identified, and mitigations were sought.
The OZ consists of six major processes: 1) patient transported by ambulance, 2) arrival to the ED, 3) transfer of patient care, 4) patient assessment in OZ, 5) patient care in OZ, and 6) patient transfer out of OZ; 78 FM were identified, of which 28 (35.9%) were deemed high risk and classified as impact on patient safety (n=7/28, 25.0%), process efficiency (n=10/28, 35.7%), or both (n=11/28, 39.3%). Seventeen mitigations were suggested.
This process map and hazard analysis is a first step in understanding the safety and efficiency of the OZ. The results from this study will inform current policy and practice, and future work to reduce offload delay.
Emergency medical services (EMS) programs, which provide an alternative to traditional EMS dispatch or transport to the emergency department (ED), are becoming widely implemented. This scoping review identified and catalogued all outcomes used to measure such alternative EMS programs.
Broad systematized bibliographic and grey literature searches were conducted.
Inclusion criteria were 911 callers/EMS patients, reported on alternatives to traditional EMS dispatch OR traditional EMS transport to the ED, and reported an outcome measure.
The reports were categorized as either alternative to dispatch or to EMS transport, and outcome measures were categorized and described.
The bibliographic search retrieved 13,215 records, of which 34 articles met the inclusion criteria, with an additional 10 added from reference list hand-searching (n=44 included). In the grey literature search, 31 websites were identified, from which four met criteria and were retrieved (n=4 included). Fifteen reports (16 studies) described alternatives to EMS dispatch, and 33 reports described alternatives to EMS transport. The most common outcomes reported in the alternatives to EMS dispatch reports were service utilization and decision accuracy. Twenty-four different specific outcomes were reported. The most common outcomes reported in the alternatives to EMS transport reports were service utilization and safety, and 50 different specific outcomes were reported.
Numerous outcome measures were identified in reports of alternative EMS programs, which were catalogued and described. Researchers and program leaders should achieve consensus on uniform outcome measures, to allow benchmarking and improve comparison across programs.
Long-term care (LTC) patients are often sent to emergency departments (EDs) by ambulance. In this novel extended care paramedic (ECP) program, specially trained paramedics manage LTC patients on site. The objective of this pilot study was to describe the dispatch and disposition of LTC patients treated by ECPs and emergency paramedics.
Data were collected from consecutive calls to 15 participating LTC facilities for 3 months. Dispatch determinants, transport rates, and relapse rates were described for LTC patients attended by ECPs or emergency paramedics. ECP involvement in end-of-life care was identified.
Of 238 eligible calls, 140 (59%) were attended by an ECP and 98 (41%) by emergency paramedics. Although the top three determinants were the same in each group, the overall distribution of dispatch determinants and acuity differed. In the ECP cohort, 98 of 140 (70%) were treated and released, 33 of 140 (24%) had “facilitated transfer” arranged by an ECP, and 9 of 140 (6%) were immediately transported to the ED by ambulance. In the emergency paramedic cohort, 77 of 98 (79%) were immediately transported to the ED and 21 of 98 (21%) were not transported. In the ECP group, 6 of 98 (6%) patients not transported triggered a 911 call within 48 hours for a related clinical reason, although none of the patients not transported by emergency paramedics relapsed.
ECP involvement in LTC calls was found to reduce transports to the ED with a low rate of relapse. These pilot data generated hypotheses for future study, including determination of appropriate populations for ECP care and analysis of appropriate and safe nontransport.
This study forms the first phase in the development of the Canadian National EMS Research Agenda. The purpose was to understand the current state of emergency medical services (EMS) research through the barriers and opportunities perceived by key stakeholders in the Canadian system and to identify the recommendations this group had for moving forward.
This qualitative study was conducted in the spring of 2011 using one-on-one semistructured telephone interviews. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit a cross section of EMS research stakeholders, representing a breadth of geographic regions and roles. Data were collected until thematic saturation was reached. A constant comparative approach was used to develop a basic coding framework and identify emerging themes.
Twenty stakeholders were invited to participate, and saturation was reached after 13 interviews. Thematic saturation was used to ensure that the findings were grounded in the data. Four major themes were identified: 1) the need for additional research education within EMS; 2) the importance of creating an infrastructure to support pan-Canadian research collaboration; 3) addressing the complexities of involving EMS providers in research; and 4) considerations for a national research agenda.
This hypothesis-generating study reveals key areas regarding EMS research in Canada and through the guidance it provides is a first step in the development of a comprehensive national research agenda. Our intention is to collate the identified themes with the results of a larger roundtable discussion and Delphi survey and, in doing so, guide development of a Canadian national EMS research agenda.
US emergency personnel cared for 106% more patients in 1990 than they did in 1980, and national emergency department census data show that 60%–80% of those patients presented with non-urgent or minor medical problems. The hiring of nurse practitioners (NPs) is one proposed solution to the ongoing overcrowding and physician shortage facing emergency departments (EDs).
We conducted a systematic review of MEDLINE and Cinahl to find articles that discussed NPs in the ED setting, looking specifically at 4 key outcome measures: wait times, patient satisfaction, quality of care and cost effectiveness.
Although some questions remain, a review of the literature suggests that NPs can reduce wait times for the ED, lead to high patient satisfaction and provide a quality of care equal to that of a mid-grade resident. Cost, when compared with resident physicians, is higher; however, data comparing to the hiring additional medical professionals is lacking.
The medical community should further explore the use of NPs, particularly in fast track areas for high volume departments. In rural areas, NPs could supplement overextended physicians and allow health centres to remain open when they might otherwise have to close. These strategies could improve access to care and patient satisfaction for selected urban and rural populations as well as make the best use of limited medical resources.
Standard learning objectives enable residency directors to develop effective programs and evaluate residents based on key goals and parameters. While standards are important for ensuring basic competence, the usual process has little flexibility to address the unique needs and desires of a given resident. Our objective was to determine whether the expectations of off-service residents rotating through an emergency department (ED) rotation were being met.
We developed a 144-item questionnaire using a 5-point Likert scale and surveyed 25 off-service residents at the beginning and end of their ED rotation. The survey was divided into 3 sections: presentations, skills and diagnoses.
The results demonstrate that certain expectations are consistently underachieved while others represent individual variations.
We propose a learner-centred approach to ensure an optimal emergency educational experience for all trainees.
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