• Can older people who fall be identified in the ambulance call centre to enable alternative responses or care pathways?

      Snooks, Helen; Cheung, Wai Yee; Gwini, Stella; Humphreys, Ioan; Sanchez, Antonio; Siriwardena, Aloysius (2011-03-01)
      Background Older people who fall make up a substantial proportion of the 999 workload. They are a particularly vulnerable group who may benefit from referral to specialised community based falls services. This requires early identification, ideally from dispatch codes assigned in the ambulance call centre. Objective To assess the feasibility of using information given during 999 calls to identify older people who fall and who may benefit from an alternative response. Methods We examined all records of patients aged 65 years and over during 2008 in the Nottinghamshire area and identified those recorded as having fallen by attending crews. Dispatch codes were recorded for all cases and the utility of the dispatch code ‘Fall without priority symptoms’ (AMPDS 17) for identifying older people who had fallen was assessed. Results From 56 584 emergency (999) calls recorded, including 8119 for patients aged 65 years and over, 3246 (40%) cases were recorded as a fall. Of these, 2186 (67%) had been allocated AMPDS code 17 at dispatch (true positives), and 413 (13%) had not (false negatives), with 647 unknowns. Of 4871 cases not categorised as a fall by attending crews, 175 (4%) had been allocated an AMPDS code 17 (false positives), and 3315 (68%) had been given other codes (true negatives), with 1381 unknowns. The dispatch code AMPDS 17 had a sensitivity of 84% and a specificity of 95% for identifying falls compared with categorisation by crews. Limitations Definition of a fall is not always clear and there may be variations in usage of the category by crews. There was a high level of missing data in this study. Conclusion A large majority of older people who fall and for whom a 999 call is made can be identified in the ambulance call centre using dispatch codes. This provides a means for rapid and effective targeting of alternative responses to these patients, thereby potentially improving processes and outcomes of care. https://emj.bmj.com/content/28/3/e1.21. 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.2010.108605.9
    • Unexpected shock in a fallen older adult: a case report

      Matthews, Gary; Booth, Helen; Whitley, Gregory (2020-06-01)
      Abstract published with permission. Introduction: Falls are common in older adults and frequently require ambulance service assistance. They are the most frequent cause of injury and associated morbidity and mortality in older adults. In recent years, the typical major trauma patient has changed from being young and male to being older in age, with falls of < 2 metres being the most common mechanism of injury. We present a case of an 84-year-old male who had fallen in his home. This case highlights the complex nature of a relatively common incident. Case presentation: The patient was laid on the floor in the prone position unable to move for 12 hours. He did not complain of any pain in his neck, back, hips or legs, and wished to be lifted off the floor promptly. On examination, he had bruising to his chest and abdomen and had suffered a suspected cervical spine injury due to a step-like protrusion around C5–C6. Distal sensory and motor function was intact. While in the ambulance his blood pressure dropped from 154/119 mmHg to 49/28 mmHg unexpectedly. We successfully reversed the shock using the modified Trendelenburg position and intravenous fluids. On follow-up he was diagnosed with dislocated C3, C6 and C7 vertebrae. Conclusion: The unexpected episode of shock witnessed in this patient may have been caused by a number of phenomena, including but not limited to crush syndrome, spinal cord concussion and orthostatic hypotension. We recommend that clinicians anticipate sudden shock in older adult patients who have fallen and a) have remained static on the floor for an extended period of time or b) are suspected of a spinal injury. We recommend assertive management of these patients to mitigate the impact of shock through postural positioning and consideration of early cannulation.