Prehospital Research

Every once in a while I will head over to and run a quick search on prehospital. It is a good way to stay current in this ever-changing field. It is also good practice to stay relevant when advocating evidence-based medicine. Here are some abstracts from my most recent query. All are open for discussion, so please leave your comments.

Can medics do math?
Pubmed [1]
BACKGROUND: The ability to perform drug calculations accurately is imperative to patient safety. Research into paramedics' drug calculation abilities was first published in 2000 and for nurses' abilities the research dates back to the late 1930s. Yet, there have been no studies investigating an undergraduate paramedic student's ability to perform drug or basic mathematical calculations. The objective of this study was to review the literature and determine the ability of undergraduate and qualified paramedics to perform drug calculations. METHODS: A search of the prehospital-related electronic databases was undertaken using the Ovid and EMBASE systems available through the Monash University Library. Databases searched included the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, CINAHL, JSTOR, EMBASE and Google Scholar, from their beginning until the end of August 2009. We reviewed references from articles retrieved. RESULTS: The electronic database search located 1,154 articles for review. Six additional articles were identified from reference lists of retrieved articles. Of these, 59 were considered relevant. After reviewing the 59 articles only three met the inclusion criteria. All articles noted some level of mathematical deficiencies amongst their subjects. CONCLUSIONS: This study identified only three articles. Results from these limited studies indicate a significant lack of mathematical proficiency amongst the paramedics sampled. A need exists to identify if undergraduate paramedic students are capable of performing the required drug calculations in a non-clinical setting.

Intubation in trauma patients.

Rogue Medic's Airway Post (one of many)
Pubmed [2]
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The primary purpose of this article is to highlight the latest airway research in multitrauma. RECENT FINDINGS: Management of the airway in multitrauma patients is a critical resuscitation task. Prehospital airway management is difficult with a high risk of failure, complications, or both. In-hospital performed conventional oral intubation with manual in-line stabilization, cricoid pressure, and a backup plan for a surgical airway is still the most efficient and effective approach for early airway control in multitrauma patients. Selective utilization of airway maintenance, instead of ultimate airway control in the field, has been suggested as a primary prehospital strategy. Properties of videolaryngoscopes complement standard laryngoscopes. When compared with a Macintosh laryngoscope, the Airtraq and Airwayscope diminish cervical spine motion during elective orotracheal intubation. Penetrating neck injuries are the most frequent indication for awake intubation, whereas patients with maxillofacial injuries have the highest rate of initial surgical airway. SUMMARY: Risks and benefits of ultimate prehospital airway control is a controversial topic. Utilization of videolaryngoscopes in multitrauma remains open for research. Standardization of training requirements, equipment, and development of prehospital and in-hospital airway algorithms are needed to improve outcomes. Rational utilization of available airway devices, development of new devices, or both may help to promote this goal.

Reduce patient prehospital delay in ACS.
Pubmed [3]
BACKGROUND: Delay from onset of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) symptoms to hospital admission continues to be prolonged. To date, community education campaigns on the topic have had disappointing results. Therefore, we conducted a clinical randomized trial to test whether an intervention tailored specifically for patients with ACS and delivered one-on-one would reduce prehospital delay time. METHODS AND RESULTS: Participants (n=3522) with documented coronary heart disease were randomized to experimental (n=1777) or control (n=1745) groups. Experimental patients received education and counseling about ACS symptoms and actions required. Patients had a mean age of 67+/-11 years, and 68% were male. Over the 2 years of follow-up, 565 patients (16.0%) were admitted to an emergency department with ACS symptoms a total of 842 times. Neither median prehospital delay time (experimental, 2.20 versus control, 2.25 hours) nor emergency medical system use (experimental, 63.6% versus control, 66.9%) was different between groups, although experimental patients were more likely than control to call the emergency medical system if the symptoms occurred within the first 6 months following the intervention (P=0.036). Experimental patients were significantly more likely to take aspirin after symptom onset than control patients (experimental, 22.3% versus control, 10.1%, P=0.02). The intervention did not result in an increase in emergency department use (experimental, 14.6% versus control, 17.5%). CONCLUSIONS: The education and counseling intervention did not lead to reduced prehospital delay or increased ambulance use. Reducing the time from onset of ACS symptoms to arrival at the hospital continues to be a significant public health challenge. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier NCT00734760.

Termination of resuscitation protocols.
Pubmed [4]
BACKGROUND: Despite the existence of national American Heart Association guidelines and 2 termination-of-resuscitation (TOR) rules for ceasing efforts in refractory out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, many emergency medical services agencies in the United States have adopted their own local protocols. Public policies and local perceptions may serve as barriers or facilitators to implementing national TOR guidelines at the local level. METHODS AND RESULTS: Three focus groups, lasting 90 to 120 minutes, were conducted at the National Association of Emergency Medical Services Physicians meeting in January 2008. Snowball sampling was used to recruit participants. Two reviewers analyzed the data in an iterative process to identify recurrent and unifying themes. We identified 3 distinct groups whose current policies or perceptions may impede efforts to adopt national TOR guidelines: payers who incentivize transport; legislators who create state mandates for transport and allow only narrow use of do-not-resuscitate orders; and communities where cultural norms are perceived to impede termination of resuscitation. Our participants suggested that national organizations, such as the American Heart Association and American College of Emergency Physicians, may serve as potential facilitators in addressing these barriers by taking the lead in asking payers to change reimbursement structures; encouraging legislators to revise laws to reflect the best available medical evidence; and educating the public that rapid transport to the hospital cannot substitute for optimal provision of prehospital care. CONCLUSIONS: We have identified 3 influential groups who will need to work with national organizations to overcome current policies or prevailing perceptions that may impede implementing national TOR guidelines.

Prehospital 12-Lead reduces door-to-balloon times

Head over to the Prehospital 12 Lead Blog

Pubmed [5]
BACKGROUND: American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines recommend greater than 75% of patients with an ST-elevation myocardial infarction receive primary percutaneous coronary interventions (PPCI) within 90 minutes. Despite these recommendations, this goal has been difficult to achieve. METHODS AND RESULTS: We conducted a prospective interventional study involving 349 patients undergoing PPCI at a single tertiary referral institution to determine the impact of prehospital 12-lead ECG triage and emergency department activation of the infarct team on door-to-balloon time (D2BT). The median D2BT of all patients (n=107) who underwent PPCI after field ECG and emergency department activation of the infarct team (MonashHEART Acute Myocardial Infarction [MonAMI] group) was 56 minutes (interquartile range, 36.5 to 70) compared with the median time of a contemporary group (n=122) undergoing PPCI during the same period but not receiving field triage (non-MonAMI group) of 98 minutes (73 to 126.45). The median D2BT time of 120 consecutive patients who underwent PPCI before initiation of the project (pre-MonAMI group) was 101.5 minutes (72.5 to 134; P less than 0.001). The proportion of patients who achieved a D2BT of less than or = 90 minutes increased from 39% in the pre-MonAMI group and 45% in the non-MonAMI group to 93% in the MonAMI group (P less than 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The performance of prehospital 12-lead ECG triage and emergency department activation of the infarct team significantly improves D2BT and results in a greater proportion of patients achieving guideline recommendations.

Monitoring mean arterial blood pressure.
Umm.. See the first abstract. Luckily most modern monitors calculate this for us.

Pubmed [6]
OBJECTIVES: For some time, the inaccuracies of non-invasive blood pressure measurement in critically ill patients have been recognised. Measurement difficulties can occur even in optimal conditions, but in prehospital transportation vehicles, problems are exacerbated. Intra-arterial pressures must be used as the reference against which to compare the performance of non-invasive methods in the critically ill patient population. Intra-arterial manometer data observed from the patient monitor has frequently been used as the reference against which to assess the accuracy of noninvasive devices in the emergency setting. To test this method's validity, this study aimed to determine whether numerical monitor pressures can be considered interchangeable with independently sampled intra-arterial pressures. METHODS: Intensive Care Unit nurses were asked to document arterial systolic, diastolic and mean pressures numerically displayed on the patient monitor. Observed pressures were compared to reference intra-arterial pressures independently recorded to a computer following analogue to digital conversion. Differences between observed and recorded pressures were evaluated using the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) protocol. Additionally, two-level linear mixed effects analyses and Bland-Altman comparisons were undertaken. RESULTS: Systolic, diastolic and integrated mean pressures observed during 60 data collection sessions (n = 600) fulfilled AAMI protocol criteria. Integrated mean pressures were the most robust. For these pressures, mean error (reference minus observed) was 0.5 mm Hg (SD 1.4 mm Hg); 95% CI (two-level linear mixed effects analysis) 0.4-0.6 mm Hg; P less than 0.001. Bland-Altman plots demonstrated tight 95% limits of agreement (-2.3 to 3.2 mm Hg), and uniform agreement across the range of mean blood pressures. CONCLUSIONS: Integrated mean arterial pressures observed from a well maintained patient monitor can be considered interchangeable with independently sampled intra-arterial pressures and may be confidently used as the reference against which to test the accuracy of non-invasive blood pressure measuring methods in the prehospital or emergency setting.


Shaggy said...

You are amazing. I always first look for the latest research when looking at our trade journels. It seems there is not much offered, though. I can spend all day at pubmed/medline, as I used to spend all day in the library as a kid (when I wasn't getting into trouble).
EMS folks need to be abreast of the current research, especially when so much of what you learn in your initial training and education is often obsolete, sometimes by the time you graduate!
I am glad there are people like you and RM to point to the importance of research, as well as how to use it.
I am amazed I missed that research regarding termination. I did not spend much time on insurance compensation. I forgot how many services are guided by that rather than what is best for the family of the victim. Two crews spending time on scene trying to resuscitate someone and then not transporting ends up being a debit to the EMS agency. We need to promote for more compensation for treat/no transports. I am sure the insurance companies would go with this as it would be cheaper in the long run.

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