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Abuse or unintended overdose (OD) of opiates and heroin may result in prehospital and emergency department (ED) care. Prehospital naloxone use has been suggested as a surrogate marker of community opiate ODs. The study objective was to verify externally whether prehospital naloxone use is a surrogate marker of community opiate ODs by comparing Emergency Medical Services (EMS) naloxone administration records to an independent database of ED visits for opiate and heroin ODs in the same community.
A retrospective chart review of prehospital and ED data from July 2009 through June 2013 was conducted. Prehospital naloxone administration data obtained from the electronic medical records (EMRs) of a large private EMS provider serving a metropolitan area were considered a surrogate marker for suspected opiate OD. Comparison data were obtained from the regional trauma/psychiatric ED that receives the majority of the OD patients. The ED maintains a de-identified database of narcotic-related visits for surveillance of narcotic use in the metropolitan area. The ED database was queried for ODs associated with opiates or heroin. Cross-correlation analysis was used to test if prehospital naloxone administration was independent of ED visits for opiate/heroin ODs.
Naloxone was administered during 1,812 prehospital patient encounters, and 1,294 ED visits for opiate/heroin ODs were identified. The distribution of patients in the prehospital and ED datasets did not differ by gender, but it did differ by race and age. The frequency of naloxone administration by prehospital providers varied directly with the frequency of ED visits for opiate/heroin ODs. A monthly increase of two ED visits for opiate-related ODs was associated with an increase in one prehospital naloxone administration (cross-correlation coefficient [CCF]=0.44; P=.0021). A monthly increase of 100 ED visits for heroin-related ODs was associated with an increase in 94 prehospital naloxone administrations (CCF=0.46; P=.0012).
Frequency of naloxone administration by EMS providers in the prehospital setting varied directly with frequency of opiate/heroin OD-related ED visits. The data correlated both for short-term frequency and longer term trends of use. However, there was a marked difference in demographic data suggesting neither data source alone should be relied upon to determine which populations are at risk within the community.
LindstromHA, ClemencyBM, SnyderR, ConsiglioJD, MayPR, MoscatiRM. Prehospital Naloxone Administration as a Public Health Surveillance Tool: A Retrospective Validation Study. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(4):1–5.
The effectiveness of a tiered emergency medical services system often hinges upon the ability of initial care providers with little or no formal training to identify emergent patient needs and determine the best means to meet those needs.
To determine if out-of-hospital emergency care providers consistently make appropriate triage, transportation, and destination decisions; and to determine if experience and training have an effect on these decisions.
A survey consisting of 14 patient-care scenarios was administered to certified and non-certified out-of-hospital emergency-care providers (n = 311) from 20 randomly selected EMS agencies. These agencies were part of EMS systems that utilize one, two, and three tiered responses by ambulance and fire-based commercial, municipal, and volunteer agencies. Participants were asked to select the most appropriate mode of transport and destination facility using the assumption that they had responded to each scenario in a basic life support ambulance. Answers included transporting the patient to various receiving facilities or requesting a more advanced-level unit to respond to the scene. Transport times to receiving facilities and estimated times of arrival for advanced-level units were provided with each choice. Eight emergency physicians unanimously had agreed upon the most appropriate answer for each scenario. A two-tailed t-test was used to compare the scores of the certified and non-certified groups; and Spearman's Correlation Coefficients were used to test the effects of experience and training.
Non-certified providers (n = 108) had a mean score of 32.6% or 4.6 (SD = 1.84) correct answers; certified providers (n = 203) had a mean score of 41.1% or 5.76 (SD = 2.12) correct answers (p < 0.000001). Spearman's Correlation Coefficients were: 1) individual provider level - (0.3978); 2) agency provider level - (0.2741); 3) hours workea per week - (0.2505); 4) years in EMS - (- 0.0821); 5) commercial or volunteer provider - (0.2398); 6) agency call volume - (0.2012); 7) agency location - (0.0685), and 8) transporting versus non-transporting agency - (0.2523).
A need exists for further education of out-of-hospital emergency care providers with respect to triage, transportation, and destination decisions. Provider experience and level of certification do not appear to affect these critical patient-care decisions.
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