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The objective of this study was to assess the public’s experience, expectations, and perceptions related to Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
A population-based telephone interview of adults in the United States was conducted. The survey instrument consisted of 112 items. Demographic variables including age, race, political beliefs, and household income were collected. Data collection was performed by trained interviewers from Kent State University’s (Kent, Ohio USA)Social Research Laboratory. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Comparative analyses were conducted between those who used EMS at least once in the past five years and those who did not use EMS using χ2 and t tests.
A total of 2,443 phone calls were made and 1,348 individuals agreed to complete the survey (55.2%). There were 297 individuals who requested to drop out of the survey during the phone interview, leaving a total of 1,051 (43.0%) full responses. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 94 years with an average age of 57.5 years. Most were Caucasian or white (83.0%), married (62.8%), and held conservative political beliefs (54.8%). Three-fourths of all respondents believed that at least 40% of patients survive cardiac arrest when EMS services are received. Over half (56.7%) believed that Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)-Basics and EMT-Paramedics provide the same level of care. The estimated median hours of training required for EMT-Basics was 100 hours (IQR: 40-200 hours), while the vast majority of respondents estimated that EMT-Paramedics are required to take fewer than 1,000 clock hours of training (99.3%). The majority believed EMS professionals should be screened for illegal drug use (97.0%), criminal background (95.9%), mental health (95.2%), and physical fitness (91.3%). Over one-third (37.6%) had used EMS within the past five years. Of these individuals, over two-thirds (69.6%) rated their most recent experience as “excellent.” More of those who used EMS at least once in the past five years reported a willingness to consent to participate in EMS research compared with those who had not used EMS (69.9% vs. 61.4%, P=.005).
Most respondents who had used EMS services rated their experience as excellent. Nevertheless, expectations related to survival after cardiac arrest in the out-of-hospital setting were not realistic. Furthermore, much of the public was unaware of the differences in training hour requirements and level of care provided by EMT-Basics and EMT-Paramedics.
CroweRP, LevineR, RodriguezS, LarrimoreAD, PirralloRG. Public Perception of Emergency Medical Services in the United States. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(Suppl. 1):s112–s117.
The 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) can capture valuable information in the prehospital setting. By the time patients are assessed by an emergency department (ED) physician, their symptoms and any ECG changes may have resolved. We sought to determine whether the prehospital electrocardiogram (pECG) could influence ED management and how often the pECG was available to and reviewed by the ED physician.
A retrospective medical record review was conducted on a random sample of patients ≥ 18 years who had a prehospital 12-lead ECG and were transported to one of two tertiary care centres. Data were recorded onto a standardized data extraction tool. Three investigators independently compared the pECG to the first ECG obtained in the ED after patient arrival at the hospital. Any abnormalities not present on the ED ECG were adjudicated to ascertain whether they had the potential to change ED management.
Of 115 ambulance runs selected, 47 had no pECG attached to the ambulance call record (ACR) and another 5 were excluded (one ST elevation myocardial infarction, one cardiac arrest, three ACR missing). Of the 63 pECGs reviewed, 16 (25%) showed changes not apparent on the initial ED ECG (κ = 0.83; 95% CI 0.74–0.93), of which 12 had differences that might influence ED management (κ = 0.76; 95% CI 0.72–0.82). Only one hospital record contained a copy of the pECG, despite the current protocol that paramedics print two copies of the pECG on arrival in the ED (one copy for the ACR and one to be handed to the medical personnel). None of 110 ED charts documented that the pECG was reviewed by the ED physician.
The pECG has the potential to influence ED management. Improvement in paramedic and physician documentation and a formal pECG handover process appear necessary.
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