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  • How accurate is the prehospital diagnosis of hyperventilation syndrome?

    Wilson, Caitlin; Harley, Clare; Steels, Stephanie (2020-11-09)
    Background: The literature suggests that hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) should be diagnosed and treated prehospitally. Aim: To determine diagnostic accuracy of HVS by paramedics and emergency medical technicians using hospital doctors' diagnosis as the reference standard. Methods: A retrospective audit was carried out of routine data using linked prehospital and in-hospital patient records of adult patients (≥18 years) transported via emergency ambulance to two emergency departments in the UK from 1 January 2012–31 December 2013. Accuracy was measured using sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (NPV/PPVs) and likelihood ratios (LRs) with 95% confidence intervals. Results: A total of 19 386 records were included in the analysis. Prehospital clinicians had a sensitivity of 88% (95% CI [82–92%]) and a specificity of 99% (95% CI [99–99%]) for diagnosing HVS, with PPV 0.42 (0.37, 0.47), NPV 1.00 (1.00, 1.00), LR+ 75.2 (65.3, 86.5) and LR− 0.12 (0.08, 0.18). Conclusions: Paramedics and emergency medical technicians are able to diagnose HVS prehospitally with almost perfect specificity and good sensitivity. Abstract published with permission.
  • End-of-life care within the paramedic context

    Wilson, Caitlin (2020-11-09)
    Edited by Tania Blackmore (2020), Palliative end of life care for paramedics provides a comprehensive overview of palliative and end-of-life care within the context of paramedic practice. This recently published book is in its first edition and is available in paperback (£29.99) or eBook (£24.99) format. It sits alongside similar publications from the College of Paramedics such as Law and ethics for paramedics and Independent prescribing for paramedics. Some of you may have noticed that these book topics reflect a selection of the paramedic e-Learning modules, which are freely available for College of Paramedic members through the e-Learning for Healthcare Hub website or via My ESR for NHS employees. The subjects covered in the ‘Paramedic – End of Life and Palliative Care’ e-Learning module loosely reflect those covered in this book; however, the book covers everything in much more detail, and includes many references to current supporting evidence, providing the reader with a greater background understanding of palliative care. The team of authors is a well-balanced mixture of academic and clinical health professionals, with three from a paramedic background and three end-of-life care specialists. The front cover of the book indicates that this book is supported by the College of Paramedics, which hints at its incredible relevance for paramedics and emergency ambulance technicians practising in the UK. Sometimes when being taught by specialists outside of the ambulance service, they impart an immense amount of specialist knowledge, yet prehospital clinicians have to decide for themselves how much is actually within their scope of practice and therefore applicable to their clinical role. Although, the editor includes a (very valid and important) disclaimer at the beginning of the book that ‘healthcare professionals should always follow local procedures and be aware of their own scope of practice’, this process of critical appraisal and judgement on applicability is made much easier by the book's close alignment with UK paramedic practice and the frequent references to the JRCALC Clinical Guidelines 2019 (Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), 2019). In fact, in that way, it is similar to the Emergency birth in the community book that I reviewed in a past issue of the Journal of Paramedic Practice (Wilson, 2019), which was supported by the AACE and JRCALC. The book takes the reader on a logical journey beginning with the broader historical, social and cultural debates about death and dying in chapter 1, followed by the various definitions of palliative care in chapter 2. Chapters 3 and 4 provide an overview of palliative care emergencies and how to recognise them, followed by guidance on symptom management. Subsequently, chapter 5 focuses on softer skills such as communication, while chapter 6 provides an overview of caring for the dying patient, delirium, medication management and discussions surrounding what may constitute a ‘good death’. Chapters 7 and 8 address the topics of ethics and professional resilience, before chapter 9 ties everything together under the title ‘the paramedic as an end of life care specialist’. A clear favourite within this book was chapter 4, which covers symptom management and seemed so applicable that it may join my ever-growing collection of ‘keep-in-helmet-bag’ books. I also really liked the many visuals, such as the image displaying the relative strength of opioids and others illustrating pain pathways and causes of vomiting and nausea. The authors have also included many educational tables, which in chapter 3 provided useful information on manifestations, relevant considerations and treatment for various palliative care emergencies such as neutropenic sepsis, superior vena cava syndrome and terminal haemorrhage. Although it will be impossible for me to remember all of these details, it will be easy to refer to these tables when thinking through differential diagnoses or reflecting on patient encounters. A great learning tool within this book are the case studies included at the end of most chapters. These cases add a practical element to the book and allow the reader to reflect upon what has been discussed in the chapter. However, many of the case studies and associated questions are complex in nature and although they are likely to have more than one right answer, there will definitely be wrong answers. I wonder if, in subsequent editions, the authors could include potential answers or discussions at the end of the book to ensure that readers are following along the right lines. I found the book to be a bit of a slow starter, as the authors use chapters 1 and 2 to introduce the reader to a wide variety of palliative care policies and frameworks in the UK. Although presented in a structured way, it is at times difficult to see how they fit together and which ones apply to paramedics. For those readers finding themselves similarly confused, I would suggest first turning to chapters 3 or 4 and then revisiting the earlier chapters to learn about the broader picture of palliative care. I think working through this book would make a useful exercise for continued professional development (CPD) as part of a paramedic portfolio or even the associate ambulance practitioner programme. In fact, the title, Palliative and end of life care for paramedics may be slightly misleading: this book is by no means solely suitable for qualified paramedics; emergency ambulance staff in other roles such as emergency medical technicians or clinical advisors within the emergency operations centre would definitely benefit from reading this book, although would have to adapt some of the advice to their own scope of practice. Overall, this book is written in simple and easy-to-understand language, provides excellent tips for further reading and cites relevant and up-to-date references throughout—what's not to love? Well, very little to be honest. I have already recommended this book to several colleagues and feel my own care of patients approaching the end of their life has improved since reading this book. I certainly feel more confident and will likely turn back to this book to answer any prehospital palliative care questions I may face in the future. The best way to summarise this book is by expressing my full agreement with the statement on the back cover: ‘it is essential reading for [prehospital clinicians] hoping to better understand the complexities of caring for patients approaching the end of life’. Abstract published with permission.
  • Challenges of SARS-CoV-2 and conflicting PPE guidelines

    Master, Shamima; Gerrard, Mark (2020-11-09)
    During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) has become a contentious issue in healthcare settings, no more so than in the prehospital environment. The current severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 virus (SARS-CoV-2) has pathogenic and transmission similarities to previous coronaviruses, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV). There are differences in global and domestic PPE guidelines concerning SARS-CoV-2. Abstract published with permission.
  • Administering naloxone: is the answer under our noses?

    Bisset, Elspeth (2009-06-01)
    The intranasal (IN) administration of naloxone to treat opioid overdoses offers many benefi ts over the current, often problematic intravenous and intramuscular routes. Such problems include using sharps around potentially aggressive patients; a high risk of transmitting blood-borne infections and diffi culty obtaining intravenous access in injecting drug users. A literature search was undertaken to examine the effectiveness of the IN route of naloxone administration in comparison to these other routes. Research suggests that the IN route is safe to introduce into practice and it is effective: the time taken from ambulance staff arriving at opioid overdose patients to them responding to IN naloxone appears to equal that of the intravenous route. Intranasal naloxone is not yet licensed for use in the UK and this needs to be reviewed. In the future this method of drug administration should result in considerable benefits and improved safety to both ambulance staff and patients, particularly for the treatment of opioid overdoses. Abstract published with permission
  • Asthma: an overview of prehospital care

    Scholes, Steven (2008-12)
    Asthma exacerbations are characterized by progressive increase in shortness of breath, decrease in expiratory airflow, productive or non-productive cough, wheezing and feeling of chest tightness. Emergency hospital admissions for asthma are costly and it is estimated 75% are avoidable through effective asthma management and routine care. This article addresses asthma management in prehospital care explaining relevant underlying pathophysiology of asthma exacerbations to provide clinicians with a greater understanding of asthma and its pharmacological and ventilatory management. Abstract published with permission.
  • Paramedic application of ultrasound in the management of patients in the prehospital setting: a review of the literature

    Brooke, Mike; Walton, Julie; Scutt, Diane (2010-07-28)
    Objectives Recently, attempts have been made to identify the utility of ultrasound in the management of patients in the prehospital setting. However, in the UK there is no directly relevant supporting evidence that prehospital ultrasound may reduce patient mortality and morbidity. The evidence available to inform this debate is almost entirely obtained from outside the UK, where emergency medical services (EMS) routinely use doctors as part of their model of service delivery. Using a structured review of the literature available, this paper examines the evidence to determine ‘Is there a place for paramedic ultrasound in the management of patients in the prehospital setting?’ Method A structured review of the literature to identify clinical trials which examined the use of ultrasound by non-physicians in the prehospital setting. Results Four resources were identified with sufficient methodological rigour to accurately inform the research question. Conclusion The theoretical concept that paramedic-initiated prehospital ultrasound may be of benefit in the management of critically ill patients is not without logical conceptual reason. Studies to date have demonstrated that with the right education and mentorship, some paramedic groups are able to obtain ultrasound images of sufficient quality to positively identify catastrophic pathologies found in critically ill patients. More research is required to demonstrate that these findings are transferable to the infrastructure of the UK EMS, and in what capacity they may be used to help facilitate optimal patient outcomes. https://emj.bmj.com/content/27/9/702. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/emj.2010.094219
  • Implementation of a prealert to improve in-hospital treatment of anticoagulant-associated strokes: analysis of a prehospital pathway change in a large UK centralised acute stroke system

    Ashton, Christopher; Sammut-Powell, Camilla; Birleson, Emily; Mayoh, Duncan; Sperrin, Matthew; Parry-Jones, Adrian (2020-05-17)
    Intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) has the worst outcomes of all stroke subtypes, with a case fatality at 1 month of 30%–40% and only 20% regaining independence.1 Improving the implementation of existing evidence-based and guideline-recommended interventions may lead to improved outcomes.2 10%–20% of acute ICH occurs in patients taking oral anticoagulants and this is associated with a high risk of early haematoma expansion.3 4 Rapid treatment to normalise coagulation reduces this risk and may improve outcomes.4 5 The first critical step in achieving this is for suspected stroke patients on anticoagulants to undergo immediate brain imaging, allowing ICH to be identified quickly and anticoagulant reversal therapy initiated. Our regional centralised acute stroke system within Greater Manchester and Eastern Cheshire serves a population of 2.85 million and although suspected stroke patients collected by ambulance <48 hours post onset are transported to a hyperacute stroke unit (HASU), only those within 4 hours of onset are prealerted. We conducted a service evaluation to determine whether an additional prealert and emergency transport for suspected stroke on anticoagulants 4–48 hours post onset facilitated rapid imaging and hence reversal of anticoagulation after ICH on HASU arrival. A proposed prealert for anticoagulant-associated suspected strokes was agreed by the Greater Manchester Stroke Operational Delivery Network and introduced on 13 March 2018. The change in practice was disseminated by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to all prehospital clinicians. https://bmjopenquality.bmj.com/content/9/2/e000883. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjoq-2019-000883
  • The secrets of success

    First, Sue; McGregor, Erica (2006-12-01)
  • Stroke knowledge and awareness: an integrative review of the evidence

    Jones, Stephanie P.; Jenkinson, Amanda J.; Leathley, Michael J.; Watkins, Caroline L. (2010-01)
  • NWAS Library and Information Service

    Holland, Matt (2009-12-18)
    Matt Holland is Outreach Librarian in the North West Ambulance Service. Here he explains his unique role, and the steps involved in the development of a Library Information Service. Abstract published with permission.
  • Could mindfulness activity improve occupational health in UK paramedics?

    Forster, Christopher (2020-05-05)
    Emerging research is supporting the implementation of mindfulness-based strategies for NHS staff. It has been shown that, by spending 10 minutes daily on the activity, health professionals can improve their emotional and cognitive functioning, while reducing work-related rumination. Through an exploratory multi-methods approach, this study sets out to quantify the occupational health levels of paramedics, and establish their appreciation of both their employer's health and wellbeing policy and mindfulness as a concept, for the overall purpose of gaining a qualitative insight into whether mindfulness activity could improve occupational health. Paramedics reported high levels of occupational stress, coupled with minimal levels of knowledge or experience of mindfulness as a health-promoting concept. Structured application of mindfulness strategies within prehospital care may promote a range of health benefits for paramedics, lead to improved organisational efficiency for trusts and support positive outcomes for patients. Abstract published with permission.
  • COPD: an overview of prehospital care

    Scholes, Steven; Hedges, Nicola (2009-12-18)
    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. It is a debilitating airways disease which presents to the ambulance service with varying severity and is characterized by airflow obstruction which is usually progressive, not fully reversible and does not change markedly over several months. It may coexist with other comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, making diagnosis of exacerbations difficult. COPD management in the prehospital environment is focused on effective recognition and the early application of pharmacological intervention to alleviate symptoms using current Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee Guidelines. Abstract published with permission.
  • The future of air ambulance services in trauma care

    Davies, Douglas (2009-12-18)
    This article explores the development of air ambulances from being vehicles for inter-hospital transfers to being the modern frontline resources for prehospital care. The service models currently utilised by the various air ambulance charities are explored, as is the influence each of these may have on the delivery of patient care. The organizational structure of air ambulance charities is addressed, as it also impacts upon service delivery and the governance of clinical practice. This area gives rise to an exploration of the potential for air ambulances to offer a unique platform for the development of the paramedic profession and an expanded scope of clinical practice. The article also explores the effect of wider changes within health care and how this impacts upon the services provided by air ambulances. Analysis of potential future developments based upon a number of factors is made and conclusions drawn with regard to both current and future practice development. Abstract published with permission.
  • Joint Royal College Ambulance Liaison Committee Airway Working Group commentary

    Jackson, Mike (2010-03)
    The publication of the paper by the Joint Royal College Ambulance Liaison Committee Airway Working Group (JRCALC AWG) will no doubt start a fierce debate among the paramedic and medical professions about prehospital intubation. Prehospital intubation performed by paramedics is a profession-defining skill, has been practised by paramedics in the UK for over 20 years, and has been a mainstay of prehospital airway management. In a survey of paramedics in the USA, prehospital intubation was ranked as a more important skill than defibrillation and patient assessment.1 Most of the literature reviewed by the JRCALC AWG was from the USA and included studies of drug-assisted intubation. Wang and associates2 examined 592 attempts at intubation in one year and found 536 of these to be successful (90.5%); another study of 264 paediatric prehospital intubations reported a much higher success rate of 99%,3 Bulger and colleagues4 in Seattle reported a success rate of 98.4% and in Bellingham, Washington, Wayne and Friedland5 reported a 95.5% success rate. It must be said that there are significant differences in the training and education of paramedics between the USA and the UK. The national standard curriculum for emergency medical technicians in the USA6 states that paramedics require only five successful intubations before graduation, whereas in the UK until recently paramedics needed to achieve 25 successful intubations. It is recognised that achieving intubation of the trachea does not necessarily mean the individual is proficient or competent in the skill of intubation. However, it must also be noted that achieving 25 intubations provides the paramedic with a higher degree of proficiency and competency than those achieving five. Limited capacity in the clinical placement circuit and the increased use of supraglottic devices for anaesthetic procedures in hospital means that paramedics are having difficulty in achieving the target of 25; as a result the accreditation bodies no longer demand that the 25 target is met, although there is still a need to learn the skill. In the future it is likely that training opportunities will be even more difficult to secure, and so the profession now finds itself at a crossroads. We need to look at what is right and what is safe for the patient, and importantly what is achievable by the profession. This will mean looking for alternative ways of achieving competence, for example, human simulation laboratories or looking at alternative airways. Recent evidence suggests that increasing the intubation experience of paramedics leads to better prehospital outcomes.7 Further evidence suggests there is no difference between experienced paramedics and doctors in performing successful intubation in prehospital cardiac arrest.8 Therefore, rather than removing the skill of intubation for all paramedics the focus should be on ensuring a proportion, for example, those in senior or advanced roles, are given the opportunity to acquire the necessary experience. If we adopt this approach the more exposure these clinicians will have the more proficient they will become, and this will result in improved outcomes. The JRCALC AWG has recognised this as a possible solution to the current problem. Ambulance services would be able to structure their response model to reflect this clinical provision and use these senior clinicians appropriately, not only to provide the expertise but also to supervise and lead on patient care at critical incidents. By using these senior clinicians the impact upon operational performance and resources will be minimised. With the training and revalidation problems we face the time is right for newly qualified paramedics and existing ones unable to maintain their intubation skills to adopt an alternative to intubation. Supraglottic airway devices are an alternative to intubation, but the suggestion by the JRCALC AWG that we should simply replace prehospital intubation by paramedics with supraglottic devices needs to be debated and researched. There is little evidence to support the effectiveness of supraglottic devices in prehospital non-fasted patients. Research to date has focussed primarily on the use of these devices in hospitals. We have no evidence to suggest that these devices are safe outside of hospitals; thus we need further research about their effectiveness. It is a gold standard in trauma that drug-assisted intubation is the best way to intubate the patient, and it is accepted that this should only be done by skilled operatives who perform the procedure regularly. However, although the JRCALC AWG agrees there is little evidence that prehospital intubation without anaesthetic drugs improves patient outcomes, there is also little evidence (especially from the UK) that prehospital intubation in patients in cardiac arrest is harmful. There are many examples in medicine in which treatment is given when it has not been proved to be effective, but the treatment continues as there is no evidence it is harmful. As there is no UK evidence that prehospital intubation by paramedics is harmful, the profession needs to continue this practice for patients in cardiac arrest—but with the skill performed by experienced senior and advanced paramedics working in a robust governance framework to ensure revalidation and maintenance of these skills. In the meantime, we need to explore the use of alternative devices including supraglottic devices, to decide if they are safe as an alternative to prehospital intubation especially for cardiac arrest, and to see if they will improve patient outcomes., https://emj.bmj.com/content/27/3/171.long. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/emj.2009.090381
  • Paramedic application of ultrasound in the management of patients in the prehospital setting: a review of the literature

    Brooke, Mike; Walton, Julie; Scutt, Diane (2010-07-28)
    ABSTRACT Objectives Recently, attempts have been made to identify the utility of ultrasound in the management of patients in the prehospital setting. However, in the UK there is no directly relevant supporting evidence that prehospital ultrasound may reduce patient mortality and morbidity. The evidence available to inform this debate is almost entirely obtained from outside the UK, where emergency medical services (EMS) routinely use doctors as part of their model of service delivery. Using a structured review of the literature available, this paper examines the evidence to determine ‘Is there a place for paramedic ultrasound in the management of patients in the prehospital setting?’ Method A structured review of the literature to identify clinical trials which examined the use of ultrasound by non-physicians in the prehospital setting. Results Four resources were identified with sufficient methodological rigour to accurately inform the research question. Conclusion The theoretical concept that paramedicinitiated prehospital ultrasound may be of benefit in the management of critically ill patients is not without logical conceptual reason. Studies to date have demonstrated that with the right education and mentorship, some paramedic groups are able to obtain ultrasound images of sufficient quality to positively identify catastrophic pathologies found in critically ill patients. More research is required to demonstrate that these findings are transferable to the infrastructure of the UK EMS, and in what capacity they may be used to help facilitate optimal patient outcomes. https://emj.bmj.com/content/27/9/702.long This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ doi: 10.1136/bmj.h535
  • Managing neck breathing patients in the prehospital setting: review of best practice

    Brooke, Mike; Brown, Andrea (2010-11)
    An increasing number of patients with long-term tracheostomies or laryngectomies are being managed in the community. However, recent evidence suggests that many clinicians from both the hospital and prehospital setting lack sufficient skills and knowledge to safely manage them in emergency situations. This article describes the anatomical and pathophysiological variations that may be encountered in tracheostomy and laryngectomy patients, and relates them to the adaptations that may be required when managing this group of patients in the prehospital setting. Abstract published with permission.
  • Enhancing mental health resilience and anticipating treatment provisions of mental health conditions for frontline Healthcare workers involved in caring for patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic - A call for action

    Kullu, Cecil; Coley, Andrew; Cooper, Cary; Aitken, John; Cummings, Jane; Gerada, Clare; Grant, Chris; Rafferty, Joe; Kumar, Raj; Gizzi, Denis; et al. (2020)

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