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The factors associated with opioid poisoning death are poorly understood. We performed a retrospective autopsy study of decedents (a term used for people who are deceased) of opioid poisoning in Wales in 2015. Using anonymized linked data, we describe demographic characteristics, patterns of emergency service utilization, and clinical presentation prior to death.
Decedents of opioid poisoning in Wales in 2015 were identified from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) mortality dataset. Records were linked with the Emergency Department Dataset (EDDS) by the National Welsh Informatics Service (NWIS); and held in the Secure Anonymized Information Linkage (SAIL) databank. The data were accessed and analyzed in the SAIL gateway.
Age at death ranged from eighteen to seventy-eight years, with a mean age of forty-two years. Average male age was forty-one years and average female age was forty-four and a half years. Seventy-three percent of decedents were men (n = 228/312). Eight-seven percent of decedents (n = 281/312) attended the emergency department in the three years prior to death. In total 2081 attendances were made, forty-one percent of which involved conveyance by ambulance. Attendances per individual ranged from one to 114, with over half of decedents attending more than three times. Diagnostic codes were mostly missing or non-specific, with only seven and a half percent of attendances representing eighty-two decedents, coded as drug related. Treatment codes were also mostly missing or non-specific, with sixteen percent of attendances representing 148 attendees attributed a treatment code. Thirty-nine percent of attendances (n = 822) ended in treatment and discharge, whilst twenty-seven percent (n = 562) led to hospital admission.
Matching previously published data, we found that fatal opioid poisoning is preceded by a period of high emergency health service utilization. On average decedents were in their fifth decade and more likely to be male than female. Attendances varied widely, with men less likely to attend than women.
Patients who experience Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) should be assessed and treated in a specialist clinic to reduce risk of further TIA or stroke. But referrals are often delayed. We aimed to identify published studies describing pathways for emergency assessment and referral of patients with suspected TIA at first medical contact: primary care; ambulance services; and emergency department.
We conducted a scoping literature review. We searched four databases (PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, Scopus). We screened studies for eligibility. We extracted and analysed data to describe setting, assessment and referral processes reported in primary research on referral of suspected TIA patients directly to specialist outpatient services.
We identified eight studies in nine papers from five countries: 1/9 randomized trial; 6/9 before-and-after designs; 2/9 descriptive account. Five pathways were used by family doctors and three by Emergency Department (ED) physicians. None were used by paramedics. Clinicians identified TIA patients using a checklist incorporating the ABCD2 tool to describe risk of further stroke, online decision support tool or clinical judgement. They referred to a specialist clinic, either directly or via a telephone helpline. Anti-platelet medication was often given, usually aspirin unless contraindicated. Some patients underwent neurological and blood tests before referral and discharge. Five studies reported reduced incident of stroke at 90 days, from 6–10 percent predicted rate to 1.2-2.1 percent actual rate. Between 44 percent and 83 percent of suspected TIA cases in these studies were directly referred to stroke clinics through the pathways.
Research literature has focused on assessment and referral by family doctors and ED physicians to reduce hospitalization of TIA patients. No pathways for paramedic use were reported. Since many suspected TIA patients present to ambulance services, effective pre-hospital assessment and referral pathways are needed. We will use review results to develop a paramedic referral pathway to test in a feasibility trial.
Adequate pain relief at the scene of injury and during transport to hospital is a major challenge in all acute traumas, especially for those with hip fractures, whose injuries are difficult to immobilize and long-term outcomes may be adversely affected by administration of opiate analgesics. Fascia Iliaca Compartment Block (FICB) is a procedure routinely undertaken by clinicians in emergency departments for hip fracture patients, but use by paramedics at the scene of emergency calls, is not yet evaluated (1).
We undertook a randomized controlled feasibility trial using novel audited scratchcard randomization to allocate eligible patients to FICB or usual care. Paramedics are recruited and trained to assess patients for hip fracture and carry out FICB. We will follow up patients to assess accuracy of paramedic diagnosis, acceptability to patients and paramedics, compliance of paramedics and also measures of pain, side effects, time in hospital and quality of life in order to plan a full trial if appropriate. The primary outcome measure is health related quality of life, measured using Short Form (SF)-12 at 1 and 6 months. Interviews and focus groups will be used to understand acceptability of FICB to patients and paramedics. This study was funded by Health and Care Research Wales (1003).
We have developed:
• paramedic pathway to assess patients for hip fracture and FICB
• paramedic training package, delivered by Consultant Anaesthetist
• randomization scratchcards.
To date we have recruited nineteen paramedics; ten are fully trained and recruiting patients, the remainder are being trained. Fifty-four patients have been randomized and thirty-five have consented to follow-up. Thirteen 1-month and five 6-month follow-up questionnaires have been received.
This study will enable us to recommend whether to undertake a definitive multi-centre randomized controlled trial of FICB by paramedics for hip fracture to determine if the procedure is effective for patients and worthwhile for the National Health Service.
New approaches are needed to safely reduce emergency admissions to hospital by targeting interventions effectively in primary care. A predictive risk stratification tool (PRISM) identifies each registered patient's risk of an emergency admission in the following year, allowing practitioners to identify and manage those at higher risk. We evaluated the introduction of PRISM in primary care in one area of the United Kingdom, assessing its impact on emergency admissions and other service use.
We conducted a randomized stepped wedge trial with cluster-defined control and intervention phases, and participant-level anonymized linked outcomes. PRISM was implemented in eleven primary care practice clusters (total thirty-two practices) over a year from March 2013. We analyzed routine linked data outcomes for 18 months.
We included outcomes for 230,099 registered patients, assigned to ranked risk groups.
Overall, the rate of emergency admissions was higher in the intervention phase than in the control phase: adjusted difference in number of emergency admissions per participant per year at risk, delta = .011 (95 percent Confidence Interval, CI .010, .013). Patients in the intervention phase spent more days in hospital per year: adjusted delta = .029 (95 percent CI .026, .031). Both effects were consistent across risk groups.
Primary care activity increased in the intervention phase overall delta = .011 (95 percent CI .007, .014), except for the two highest risk groups which showed a decrease in the number of days with recorded activity.
Introduction of a predictive risk model in primary care was associated with increased emergency episodes across the general practice population and at each risk level, in contrast to the intended purpose of the model. Future evaluation work could assess the impact of targeting of different services to patients across different levels of risk, rather than the current policy focus on those at highest risk.
Emergency admissions to hospital are a major financial burden on health services. In one area of the United Kingdom (UK), we evaluated a predictive risk stratification tool (PRISM) designed to support primary care practitioners to identify and manage patients at high risk of admission. We assessed the costs of implementing PRISM and its impact on health services costs. At the same time as the study, but independent of it, an incentive payment (‘QOF’) was introduced to encourage primary care practitioners to identify high risk patients and manage their care.
We conducted a randomized stepped wedge trial in thirty-two practices, with cluster-defined control and intervention phases, and participant-level anonymized linked outcomes. We analysed routine linked data on patient outcomes for 18 months (February 2013 – September 2014). We assigned standard unit costs in pound sterling to the resources utilized by each patient. Cost differences between the two study phases were used in conjunction with differences in the primary outcome (emergency admissions) to undertake a cost-effectiveness analysis.
We included outcomes for 230,099 registered patients. We estimated a PRISM implementation cost of GBP0.12 per patient per year.
Costs of emergency department attendances, outpatient visits, emergency and elective admissions to hospital, and general practice activity were higher per patient per year in the intervention phase than control phase (adjusted δ = GBP76, 95 percent Confidence Interval, CI GBP46, GBP106), an effect that was consistent and generally increased with risk level.
Despite low reported use of PRISM, it was associated with increased healthcare expenditure. This effect was unexpected and in the opposite direction to that intended. We cannot disentangle the effects of introducing the PRISM tool from those of imposing the QOF targets; however, since across the UK predictive risk stratification tools for emergency admissions have been introduced alongside incentives to focus on patients at risk, we believe that our findings are generalizable.
A predictive risk stratification tool (PRISM) to estimate a patient's risk of an emergency hospital admission in the following year was trialled in general practice in an area of the United Kingdom. PRISM's introduction coincided with a new incentive payment (‘QOF’) in the regional contract for family doctors to identify and manage the care of people at high risk of emergency hospital admission.
Alongside the trial, we carried out a complementary qualitative study of processes of change associated with PRISM's implementation. We aimed to describe how PRISM was understood, communicated, adopted, and used by practitioners, managers, local commissioners and policy makers. We gathered data through focus groups, interviews and questionnaires at three time points (baseline, mid-trial and end-trial). We analyzed data thematically, informed by Normalisation Process Theory (1).
All groups showed high awareness of PRISM, but raised concerns about whether it could identify patients not yet known, and about whether there were sufficient community-based services to respond to care needs identified. All practices reported using PRISM to fulfil their QOF targets, but after the QOF reporting period ended, only two practices continued to use it. Family doctors said PRISM changed their awareness of patients and focused them on targeting the highest-risk patients, though they were uncertain about the potential for positive impact on this group.
Though external factors supported its uptake in the short term, with a focus on the highest risk patients, PRISM did not become a sustained part of normal practice for primary care practitioners.
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