• 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.
    • Hyperventilation syndrome: diagnosis and reassurance

      Wilson, Caitlin (2018-09)
      Abstract published with permission. This article provides an overview of hyperventilation syndrome (HVS). Hyperventilation is to breathe in excess of metabolic requirements; in the absence of an underlying organic cause, it is defined as HVS. Alternative terms used in literature are panic or anxiety attack, panic or anxiety disorder, dysfunctional breathing and breathing pattern disorder. This article explores HVS signs and symptoms beyond the familiar clinical signposts of tachypnoea, chest tightness, paraesthesia and anxiety. It will also discuss differential diagnoses and pre-hospital treatment of HVS, focusing on reassuring patients and assisting them in establishing a good respiratory pattern. Patients with HVS use a significant amount of hospital and emergency service resources, ideally placing paramedics to diagnose and treat HVS in the pre-hospital setting to avoid unnecessary and costly hospital admissions. Further research is needed to evaluate the pre-hospital prevalence and diagnostic accuracy of HVS, identify clear diagnostic criteria and design screening tools.