• An atypical presentation of orthostatic hypotension and falls in an older adult

      Thoburn, Steve; Cremin, Steve; Holland, Mark (The College of Paramedics, 2022-03)
      Introduction: Falls are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in older adults. Orthostatic hypotension (OH) is very common in this cohort of patients and is a significant risk for falls and associated injuries. We present the case of an 89-year-old female who fell at home, witnessed by her husband. OH was identified during the clinical assessment and considered to be the predominant contributing factor, although the clinical presentation was not associated with classical symptoms. Case presentation: The patient lost balance while turning away from the kitchen sink; she noted some instability due to a complaint of generalised weakness in both of her legs. No acute medical illness or traumatic injury was identified. A comprehensive history was obtained that identified multiple intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for falling. The cardiovascular examination was unremarkable except for OH, with a pronounced reduction in systolic blood pressure of 34 mmHg at the three-minute interval and which reproduced some generalised weaknesses in the patient's legs and slight instability. Although classical OH symptoms were not identified, this was considered to be the predominant factor contributing to the fall. A series of recommendations was made to primary and community-based care teams based upon a rapid holistic review; this included a recommendation to review the patient's dual antihypertensive therapy. Conclusion: It is widely known that OH is a significant risk factor for falls, but asymptomatic or atypical presentations can make diagnosis challenging. Using the correct technique to measure a lying and standing blood pressure, as defined by the Royal College of Physicians, is crucial for accurate diagnosis and subsequent management. Ambulance clinicians are ideally placed to undertake this quick and non-invasive assessment to identify OH in patients that have fallen. Abstract published with permission.
    • Is paramedic practice ready to adopt the NICE Transient Loss of Consciousness Guideline?

      Thoburn, Steve (2013-10)
      Abstract published with permission. In 2010 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published a guideline to assist clinicians, across various healthcare settings, to diagnose and subsequently manage patients experiencing a transient loss of consciousness (TLoC). The guideline emphasises that patients who are diagnosed as having had an ‘uncomplicated faint’ or ‘situational syncope’, from the initial assessment process, may not require conveyance to the nearest emergency department. JRCALC have included these recommendations within the latest published guidelines. Evidently, this may reduce inappropriate admissions and reduce unnecessary NHS expenditure. In addition it enables clinicians to provide care to patients within their home environment thus improving their experience and outcome as a service user. Furthermore, non-conveyance may reduce ambulance turn-around times enabling clinicians to become available to respond to life-threatening emergencies sooner. However, to utilise the guideline, clinicians are expected to be proficient in aspects of history taking, physical examination and 12-lead ECG interpretation. The current paucity of pre-hospital evidence base provides no support for use of the guideline by paramedics. It is questionable as to whether further education and training are required, before paramedics can utilise the guideline, to diagnose and discharge patients at scene without causing any detriment to patient outcome.