• Acute cocaine toxicity: assessment and cardiac risk

      Gardner, Karen (2009-11-27)
      The UK has the highest prevalence of drug use within Europe, with a 13% increase in cocaine and ecstasy related deaths reported between 2004 and 2005. This is significant to emergency medical personnel because cocaine toxicity can present clinically as acute coronary syndrome (ACS) minus typical associated risk factors. Cocaine use has an immediate effect on the body, having an onset of action seconds to minutes after administration. The resultant effect is manyfold, but can be divided into the two broad categories of central nervous system and cardiovascular effects. Cocaine misuse is a trigger of ACS, acute myocardial infarction and sudden death in a population of patients largely free of classic cardiovascular risk factors. Emergency medical staff are in a position to provide early and effective management through history-taking and assessment tools in conjunction with therapeutic intervention. The aim of this article is to highlight the presentation and consequence of acute cocaine toxicity in relation to its assessment, management and cardiac emergencies within the prehospital setting. Abstract published with permission.
    • Advanced prehospital stroke triage in the era of mechanical thrombectomy

      Morrison, Luke (2019-04)
      Abstract published with permission. Direct transport to a comprehensive stroke centre that is capable of endovascular thrombectomy may improve outcomes in patients with large vessel occlusive stroke. A number of prehospital triage tools have been developed to see if clinicians can predict which patients would benefit from this procedure, allowing them to bypass a primary stroke centre in preference for a comprehensive stroke centre. A literature search was performed across a number of medical databases; six triage tools were selected for analysis based on their reported accuracy and prevalence in clinical trials. Additionally, a number of articles were isolated for the analysis of changing systems of care for patients who had had a stroke. This narrative review integrates how these variously accurate triage tools could benefit patients and outlines why changes to the system of care for stroke patients require a ground-upwards, local approach. The accuracy of the triage tools analysed varied, with some lacking specificity and others sensitivity. Triage tools are evolving, and simplistic tools offer comparable accuracy when contrasted with comprehensive alternatives, which require a significantly increased level of assessment skill and time demand. While there is evidence in support of prehospital bypass protocols, this evidence is poorly generalisable owing to a number of variables, with geographical layout being a significant compounding factor.
    • Alcohol/substance use and occupational/post-traumatic stress in paramedics

      Hichisson, Andrew; Corkery, John Martin (2020-10-07)
      Background: Paramedics work in high-pressure environments and experience traumatic events, which contribute to high levels of occupational and post-traumatic stress. Such stress can result in alcohol and substance misuse in other health professionals, but this relationship has not been examined in paramedics. This review is the first exploration of the literature on this. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted using PRISMA guidelines, with databases searched using terms relevant to paramedics and alcohol/substance use. Studies were analysed using descriptive statistics for quantitative data and thematic analysis for qualitative information. Findings: Eleven studies were identified. Nine studies examined alcohol use; seven examined substance use; five examined both. Alcohol and smoking may be linked to occupational stress. Conclusions: The nature and extent of alcohol and substance use in relation to occupational and post-traumatic stress among paramedics need further investigation to facilitate advice and support. Abstract published with permission.
    • Ambulance clinician assessment and management of transient loss of consciousness: a retrospective clinical audit

      Shaw, Joanna; Ulrich, Alex; Fothergill, Rachael; Whitbread, Mark (2016-01)
      Abstract published with permission. Introduction: Transient loss of consciousness (T-LOC) is thought to be underestimated and under-managed in the pre-hospital setting. This clinical audit aims to assess the compliance of ambulance clinicians against the National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidance on the management of patients with T-LOC. Method: Ninety-four patients’ clinical records and electrocardiograms (ECGs) were reviewed to determine appropriateness of assessment and patient management. Results: In this limited sample, findings show standard assessments and history documented for all patients were equally well recorded for T-LOC patients, but those specific to T-LOC were not. The number of ECGs conducted and interpreted correctly was an additional area of concern. Conclusions: Further assessments and history specific to T-LOC are required in the pre-hospital setting to ensure any potentially serious causes are recognised and these patients are taken to hospital.
    • Anatomical and physiological mechanisms of heartblock associated with AMI

      Edwards, Timothy (2013-12)
      Abstract published with permission. Heart block (HB) is a recognised complication of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and is often a marker for increased mortality and morbidity. An appreciation of the anatomical and physiological mechanisms associated with the development of HB in AMI is important for the prediction and management of complications when dealing with such cases. Certain forms of HB are classically linked to infarction of specific anatomical territories in AMI. However, variations in pre-morbid state and anatomy of the coronary vessels provide potential for the development of HB in any patient experiencing AMI, regardless of the territory affected.
    • Appropriate pain assessment tools for use in patients with dementia in the out-of-hospital environment

      Armour, Richard; Murphy-Jones, Barry (2016-11)
      Abstract published with permission. There is substantial evidence to suggest adults with cognitive impairment, caused by degenerative conditions such as dementia, are at a significantly higher risk of suboptimal pain assessment and management in the acute care setting when compared to adults without cognitive impairment. This paper aims to assess the pain assessment tools most appropriate for use in adults with cognitive impairment as a result of dementia within the out-of-hospital setting. A search of the literature was conducted in May 2016. The databases searched were Pubmed (Medline) and Embase. The primary types of literature retrieved were meta-reviews, systematic reviews or reviews. All subcategories of dementia were included in this review. From the search strategies, 12 relevant articles and 35 pain assessment tools for use in patients with dementia were identified. In this review, the Abbey Pain Scale and PAINAD have been identified as tools substantiated in the literature for use in detecting pain in adults with dementia, which likely have applications in the out-of-hospital environment. A trial of either the Abbey Pain Scale or PAINAD in an emergency ambulance service is appropriate and likely warranted to assess their impact on pain assessment in this vulnerable patient group.
    • The Brook Greenwich (1957)

      Whatling, Andy (2019-02-04)
      Photograph courtesy of London Ambulance Service. Abstract published with permission.
    • Cerebral oximetry monitoring in OHCA

      Burrell, Lisa; Rice, Alan (2018-12)
      Abstract published with permission. Background: Cerebral oximetry allows non-invasive, real-time monitoring information of cerebral blood flow. It has recently been used to provide information about cerebral perfusion during resuscitation efforts in cases of cardiac arrest and may give an indication of neurological survival. Most of this information has been obtained during the hospital phase of treatment and little is known about cerebral flow in the prehospital phase. Methods: A systematic review was carried out, with the PubMed and EMBASE databases searched to identify clinical trials where cerebral oximetry monitoring was performed in the prehospital phase of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. It aimed specifically to answer the following questions: is cerebral oximetry monitoring feasible in the prehospital environment? Can cerebral oximetry be used as a useful marker of the quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the prehospital setting? Can cerebral oximetry be used to assist decisions around prognostication and futility for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest? Results: Five studies were identified for review. Feasibility was demonstrated in four of these. The usefulness of cerebral oximetry in monitoring cardiopulmonary resuscitation has not been well explored in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Similarly, data linking intra-arrest cerebral oximetry values and prognosis in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is sparse. Conclusions: Cerebral oximetry is feasible in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest but its usefulness in guiding resuscitation attempts in this environment remains largely unknown.
    • A clinical audit of the pre-hospital paediatric respiratory assessment in London

      Clark, Sophie; Shaw, Joanna; Wrigley, Fenella (2014-02)
      Abstract published with permission. Assessing a child with difficulty in breathing is a challenge in a pre-hospital setting, especially children under 3 years old. Nevertheless, hypoxia must be treated early, and a respiratory assessment is essential to ensuring the well being of these patients. The aim of this audit was to update the research, as there have been changes in equipment and training since this was last addressed. A criterion-based clinical audit was undertaken of 253 patient report forms collected from the London Ambulance Service over a one-month period. The pre-hospital clinician must have coded dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing) and the patient’s age must be under three years. The observations audited were: respiratory rate, auscultation attempt and oxygen saturations, any exceptions were noted. The results showed that 85% (n=220) had two respiratory rates recorded, 70% (n = 178) recorded an auscultation attempt, whilst two oxygen saturation recordings were documented for 52% (n=131). The main reason for no oxygen saturations was ‘no kit’, accounting for 38% (n= 45) of the noncompliance. Overall, 39% (n=99) recorded all three observations in this audit. It was concluded that there has been progress since the last review; however, there is still potential for better compliance. Recording oxygen saturations especially needs improving and the availability of equipment requires addressing.
    • A critical analysis and appraisal of the management of croup in the UK out-of-hospital environment

      Francis, Joe (2015-06)
      Abstract published with permission. This article aims to explore the epidemiology, aetiology and pathophysiology of laryngotracheobronchitis (croup), a commonly presenting illness faced by paramedics attending young children in the community. In this article, current evidence surrounding pharmacotherapies for croup shall be discussed with relevance to paramedic practice. Furthermore, current dosages, routes of administration, cost-effectiveness and weight-based drug calculations will be outlined and debated alongside the current evidence base.
    • A critical appraisal of the assessment and management of psoriasis

      Phillips, Alyesha (2016-02)
      Abstract published with permission. Psoriasis affects a substantial number of the UK population. The chronic inflammatory skin disease that typically follows a relapsing and remitting course, resulting from the abnormal activation of T cells and associated increase in cytokines in affected tissues, can transpire at any age (Gould and Dyer, 2011). Plaque psoriasis is by far the most common type of the disease making up 90% of all cases and can result in all of functional, psychological and social morbidity (Basavaraj et al, 2011). Moreover, psoriasis has been linked with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. There are a considerable amount of treatment options available for psoriasis, resulting in variance in practice within primary care, particularly concerning when to refer, drug monitoring and psychological support (Murphy and Reich, 2011). This is important to recognise within the paramedic profession as there is now an increased responsibility for paramedics to discharge patients within their own home and/or refer when necessary and safe to do so. Moreover, there is minimal knowledge on dermatology in the paramedic profession, further fortifying the importance of learning about the best treatment option for psoriasis. A stepwise approach to treatment is recommended, dependent on the severity of the disease (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2012).
    • A critical appraisal of the pre-hospital management of cervical spine injury in children and young people

      Francis, Joe (2015-03)
      Abstract published with permission. Paediatric cervical spine injury (CSI) has been outlined in current literature as a research priority, where it has been included in the top 10 clinical research priorities by the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network. This article therefore aims to review the evidence base underpinning UK paramedic practice when managing children and young people at risk of CSI. In this article, particular focus shall be given to clinical practice challenges while exploring the risk over benefit debate of spinal immobilisation. Throughout this article, considerations for future research and of adopted future practice shall also be made.
    • Cycle response unit paramedics

      Reed, Ashley (2012-10)
    • The decision-making process in an emergency: a reflection on paramedic practice

      Lindsey, Louise (2013-12)
      Abstract published with permission. This article will use a case study to critically reflect and analyse the decisionmaking process used in an emergency situation. It will discuss a range of factors that influenced the clinical decision-making process and how this prompted immediate transport to a local hospital. A wide range of supporting evidence will be explored and the decision-making process will be questioned and challenged. Relevant professional, ethical and legal issues will be considered and discussed. The inclusion of other colleagues, patients, relatives and their involvement, within the decision-making process, will also be deliberated.
    • The effect of a heart failure training intervention assessed via clinical simulation

      Edwards, Timothy (2011-08)
      Abstract published with permission. Prehospital differential diagnosis of heart failure (HF) by paramedics is sometimes unreliable (Schaider et al, 1995) and may lead to therapeutic interventions being withheld (Jenkinson et al, 2008) or the initiation of inappropriate and potentially harmful treatment (Wuerz and Meador, 1992). To date, no studies have evaluated the effect of participation in a HF training intervention on diagnostic accuracy among undergraduate UK paramedics assessed through clinical simulation. In this study, 17 paramedics were exposed to three mannequin based scenarios designed to simulate HF, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Participants were given up to 10 minutes to examine each mannequin and scrutinize clinical data before recording a diagnosis. Participant demographics and self reported confidence relating to assessment and management of HF were collected via a questionnaire. Two weeks later, participants attended a 90 minute targeted HF training intervention. Two weeks post training, the paramedics repeated the clinical simulation exercise and questionnaire. Initial diagnostic sensitivity and specificity for HF were higher than that reported in a previous UK clinical study, and improved following participation in a training intervention, although this failed to reach significance (83% vs 100% and 91.67 vs 100%, P>0.05). A significant improvement in self reported confidence relating to use of ECG findings in assessment of HF patients was noted (z=-2.309, P=0.021). In this study, paramedic differential diagnosis of HF assessed through clinical simulation demonstrated a non-significant trend towards improved sensitivity and specificity following participation in a targeted training intervention.
    • Focused cardiac ultrasound in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a literature review

      Brown, Nick; Quinn, Tom (2021-01-02)
      Focused cardiac ultrasound (FoCUS) is emerging in emergency medical systems, particularly in the context of prognostication in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. However, FoCUS has not been formally incorporated into UK guidelines because of a lack of evidence. Furthermore, concerns have been raised that FoCUS can distract people from providing other essential and evidenced elements of care. This broad literature search aims to shed light on the practice of FoCUS in cardiac arrest by reviewing articles related to in-hospital and out-of-hospital practice. The findings are conspicuous by the lack of high-quality studies, particularly regarding prognostication. Association between ultrasound findings and outcome are asserted, as is the feasibility of paramedic use of FoCUS, although the evidence is from small and non-randomised studies and subject to bias. Abstract published with permission.
    • Framework for assessment of the 12 lead ECG in transient loss of consciousness

      Edwards, Timothy (2012-11)
      Abstract published with permission. Following the introduction of pre-hospital thrombolysis, the acquisition and interpretation of the 12 lead ECG has become a routine part of UK paramedic practice. Although there is a growing body of evidence that confirms the diagnostic ability of paramedics in this area, little is known regarding the ability of paramedics to scrutinise the 12 lead ECG for other abnormalities. Recent publication of NICE guidance (NICE, 2010) relating to transient loss of consciousness (T-LOC) requires practitioners responsible for assessment of the 12 lead ECG post T-LOC to be competent in identifying a range of abnormalities. This paper describes a novel assessment framework in the form of a mnemonic designed to assist paramedic students in scrutinising the ECG for abnormalities post T-LOC. The need for further research to validate this assessment framework in educational and clinical settings is emphasised.
    • The future of paramedic intubation: who should be responsible?

      Hodkinson, Mark (2010-08)
      Prehospital airway management in trauma patients has been the subject of debate among many professionals for a number of years. At present, the gold standard for airway management and optimal ventilation is endotracheal intubation. Paramedics, as the frontline prehospital care providers, are currently able to practice endotracheal intubation in order to secure an airway, but only when the patient is comatose with no gag reflex. Training in endotracheal intubation has been under close scrutiny by regulatory bodies such as the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Service Liaison Committee, with emphasis on using other techniques to secure the airway, including supra-glottic airway devices. Rapid sequence induction and drug assisted airway management is only carried out by doctors working in the prehospital arena. However, a number of studies document that paramedics are more than capable of carrying out successful rapid sequence induction in trauma patients. This article considers the training received by paramedics in airway management, techniques that are employed and the influence of current literature on the debate over paramedic endotracheal intubation. Abstract published with permission.
    • High-risk non-ST elevation acute coronary syndromes (NSTEACS) for paramedics

      Reed, Ashley (2012-08)
      Abstract published with permission. Pre-hospital clinicians frequently encounter patients suffering acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and they form an integral part in recognising and conveying the ST-elevation myocardial infraction (STEMI) patient to the most appropriate destination, namely the heart attack centre (HAC). The emphasis has been upon the recognition and subsequent management of the STEMI patient. The non-ST elevation acute coronary syndrome (NSTEACS) patient has a similar mortality and morbidity yet does not receive the same pathways as STEMI. This article aims to provide an understanding based on a case study around NSTEACS with supporting evidence relating to risk stratification, clinical trials and clinical guidelines of what needs to be developed to enhance the care we provide to the NSTEAC patient in the pre-hospital arena.