• 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.
    • 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)
    • Experiences of two paramedics deployed to the Phillipines in response to Typhoon Haiyan

      Watts, Peta; Byrom, Tim (2014-10)
      Abstract published with permission. This article describes the experiences of two paramedics from the UK International Emergency Trauma Register (UKIETR) who deployed as part of the UK-Med response to Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Each had a key role in the deployed teams, both targeting distinct but differing health needs following the Typhoon. Tim Byrom was a member of the first team activated on 13 November 2013. He formed part of a surgical, anaesthetic and rehabilitation team that assisted the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) at their field hospital in Tacloban. Peta Watts was in the second team, deployed two weeks after the Typhoon following invitation to continue assessments and health provision on outlying islands. Her experience involved being part of a unique and effective collaboration between the Department for International Development (DfID), UK-Med, and the British Military in the delivery of an integrated humanitarian aid package.
    • Exploratory study into the views of paramedics on paramedic prescribing

      Duffy, Iain; Jones, Colin (2017-07)
      Abstract published with permission. The purpose of this paper is to establish the views of a group of Paramedics on Paramedic prescribing. Although at the time of writing the proposal to the Commission on Human Medicines they rejected prescribing for Paramedics, work is still ongoing with various bodies to move forward with the application. A focus group of a small number of Paramedics was held, and the researcher performed a review of relevant literature. The development of the role of paramedic from an ambulance driver to a highly skilled and knowledgeable healthcare professional was discussed. It was established that the profession's close links with higher education institutions would be pivotal if paramedics are to be given prescribing rights. The study concluded that paramedics believe they should be able to become independent prescribers, as it would help further their career, giving the profession added credibility. As paramedics already give a rounded healthcare approach to their patients, this would only be enhanced by prescribing rights, as a ‘complete’ health care attitude could be established.
    • Fifty per cent reduction in admission by sharing data from ambulance service

      Dermott, S.; Byrne, J.; McCroy, S.; Rajbhandari, S. (2018-03)
    • Frailty as lived, frailty as applied: exploring lived experiences in older patients who have fallen and called 999

      Robertson, Duncan; Cooke, Mary (2016-09)
      Rationale The aim of this pilot study was to explore the personal meanings of frailty within a purposive sample of older patients who had fallen, needed an Emergency Ambulance Service response and were subsequently referred to a falls service. A systematic literature review indicated that no qualitative studies had been carried out within such a sample previously. Methods The qualitative methodology used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis; which explored the essential nature of frailty as a phenomenon though a series of subjective narrative accounts generated by focused interviews. Employing a reflexive approach to the analysis allowed completion of a participant-centred and ethically sound study. Results Analysis of six focused interviews with older adults provided a thick description which highlighted five themes: Adaptations to frailty, Focus on confidence as psychological frailty, A changing lifeworld-towards social frailty, Reconciling a frail future and Frailty as stigma. These themes were discussed in relation to sociological literature including theories concerning transitions from the third to fourth age, liminality and social death, frailty as stigma and frailty as lived and frailty as applied. Implications This sample of patients represented a group in transition. They occupied a liminal zone situated between the third and fourth age and while acknowledging oldness, they actively challenged biomedical assumptions of frailty through an emphasis on control and individual agency. This study enables paramedics to modulate their communications when encountering elders who reject the notion of frailty as a term applied. For service design, the results allow the voice of the patient group to be heard, so that solutions can be designed in an inclusive, rather than hierarchical fashion. Significantly, this thesis forms part of an emerging body of evidence that questions the usefulness of the term frailty as experienced by this sample of participants. https://emj.bmj.com/content/emermed/33/9/e11.1.full.pdf 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/ http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/emermed-2016-206139.35
    • From trade to profession-the professionalisation of the paramedic workforce

      First, Sue; Tomlins, Lucy; Swinburn, Andy (2012-07)
      Abstract published with permission. How do we achieve professionalisation of the paramedic? The Trait theory identifies professions as having 1. An exclusive body of knowledge 2. Self regulation and 3. Registration. Becoming a profession leads to improved remuneration and greater respect and knowledge, but this does not lead to a change in personal conduct. Professionalism however, is connected to behaviour, attitudes, accountability and responsibility. The behavioural changes and attitudes required of a ‘professional’ are brought about through the combination of higher education and clinical leadership. Academic input integrates clinical leadership with the career structure and all staff at all levels. Clinical leaders are at the coal face, accessible during and after the event, for training and clinical supervision and are therefore transforming practice at every level. However, clinical leadership is ineffective with an uneducated workforce and an uneducated workforce is ineffective without clinical leadership, the two go hand in hand So... What is the way forward for the ambulance service? What are paramedics doing to develop and maintain the profession and professional behaviours?
    • 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.
    • GP perspectives of paramedic referrals to urgent and primary care

      Burns, John (2018-07)
      Abstract published with permission. Background: This article stemmed from a search for more understanding about how paramedics relate to urgent and primary care (U&PC). Methods: The current study is qualitative, involving interview with seven general practitioners (GPs) in Wirral, Merseyside. Their verbatim evidence was audiorecorded, transcribed and analysed. Findings: There were three superordinate themes established: variability of referrals; the value of referrals sometimes being overlooked; and the need for skills development to improve referrals. Conclusion: The paramedic skillset is essential for appropriate referrals as long as their limitations are considered by GPs, while future research should focus on how paramedic skill bases can evolve in the U&PC community.
    • The head injury transportation straight to neurosurgery (HITS-NS) randomised trial: a feasibility study

      Lecky, Fiona; Russell, Wanda; Fuller, Gordon W.; McClelland, Graham; Pennington, Elspeth; Goodacre, Steve; Han, Kyee; Curran, Andrew; Holliman, Damian; Freeman, Jennifer; et al. (2016-01)
    • Heliox in acute severe asthma in the A&E setting: a review

      Scholes, Steven (2013-09-29)
      Heliox (HeO2) is a mixture of helium and oxygen, often mixed in 80:20 or 70:30 ratios for use in medicine and clinical investigations. Heliox has been available for use in the UK since 2002 and is supplied as Heliox 21 (21% oxygen and 79% helium) by BOC Gases for medical use in asthma, croup, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other medical procedures. Heliox use in asthma exacerbations remains largely experimental owing to the limited number of randomized controlled trials. This review aims to critically analyse the efficiency of Heliox use in acute asthma exacerbations in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) setting, evaluate its effectiveness as a medium for nebulization, and assess potential benefits to clinical practice. Prehospital application will also be discussed in moderate-severe asthma exacerbations. It is envisaged that the factors relating to Heliox use in asthma are focused to provide an additional therapy to the current choice of therapies for prehospital clinicians. Abstract published with permission.
    • Home is… where the work is

      Holland, Matt (2016-03)
    • 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.
    • 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
    • Implementing a paediatric early warning score into pre-hospital practice

      Rolls, Martin (2019-06-01)
      Aim: This study addressed a desire by ambulance clinicians for additional education in the examination and assessment of the unwell child; it also explored whether ambulance clinicians could use a paediatric early warning score (PEWS) safely and effectively in the pre-hospital arena. Methods: A small-scale study introduced a validated PEWS into pre-hospital practice. The paediatric observations priority score (POPS) combines physiological observations with clinicians’ review. POPS uses a range of proxy measures such as work of breathing, alertness, gut feeling and known high-risk factors, to further refine the scoring. Based on a sample of over 24,000 patients, POPS has been validated for use in emergency departments (EDs). POPS can identify potentially critically unwell children as well as those fit for discharge without hospital admission, the fundamental purpose of an ED. Study participants were surveyed before and after the trial period in order to examine self-reported scores in confidence and competence levels for the child in pain, the breathless child, the child with a decreased level of consciousness, the febrile child and the seriously injured child. Completed patient report forms (PRFs) were returned to the principal investigator for further analysis. PRFs were re-distributed among participants for rescoring. Once rescoring was completed, the PRFs were returned to the principal investigator for calculation of interrater reliability. Participants remained anonymous for the survey. Results: Interrater reliability (Kappa coefficient) was calculated as 0.401, which is considered moderate agreement. As POPS rose, variance decreased. Lower POPS had variance, but these patients were lower acuity. Equal scoring in the main was reliable. Conclusion: For a cohort of ambulance clinicians, POPS was found to be safe and effective. Self-reported levels in confidence and competence improved in all patient presentations when comparing before and after the trial period (Table 1). Table 1. Comparison of mean scores for confidence and competence before and after trial period, stratified by patient presentation. Comparison of mean scores Confidence Competence Before After Diff (+/-) Before After Diff (+/-) Pain 5.01 6.34 1.33 4.17 7.49 3.32 Breathless 5.13 6.52 1.39 6.54 7.62 1.08 Decreased level of consciousness 5.93 6.47 0.54 6.04 7.58 1.54 Febrile 6.92 7.06 0.14 6.85 8.20 1.35 Seriously injured 5.95 6.44 0.49 5.99 7.60 1.61 Abstract published with permission.