• Accuracy of nature of call screening tool in identifying patients requiring treatment for out of hospital cardiac arrest

      Green, Jonathan; Ewings, Sean; Wortham, Richard; Walsh, Bronagh (2019-04)
      Background: A new pre-triage screening tool, Nature of Call (NoC), has been introduced into the telephone triage system of UK ambulance services which employ National Health Service Pathways (NHSP). Its function is to provide rapid recognition of patients who may need immediate ambulance dispatch for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) and withholding dispatch for other calls while further triage is undertaken. In this study, we evaluated the accuracy of NoC and NHSP in identifying patients with potentially treatable or imminent OHCA. Methods: This retrospective, observational study reviewed consecutive calls to a UK ambulance service between October 2016 and February 2017 in which NOC, and then NHSP were applied sequentially. Only those calls for which a corresponding electronic Patient Clinical Record was available were included. Sensitivity and specificity of NOC and NHSP for recognition of an OHCA were determined by comparing allocated priority dispositions with an OHCA Treatment Registry (OHCATR). Results: Of 96 423 calls received, 71 373 were reviewed. For 590 (0.8%) of these calls, the patients received treatment for OHCA. NOC identified 458 OHCATR patients; NHSP identified 467; together they identified 496. NoC captured 29 patients not identified by NHSP; NHSP captured 38 patients not identified by NOC. For NOC sensitivity was 77.6% (95% CI 74.1 to 80.8) and specificity 86.9% (95% CI 86.6 to 87.1). NHSP sensitivity was 79.2% (95% CI 75.7 to 82.2) and specificity 93.4% (95% CI 93.2 to 93.6). NoC and NHSP combined had a sensitivity of 84.1% (95% CI 80.9 to 86.8) and specificity of 85.3% (95% CI 85.1 to 85.6). Conclusions: NoC and NHSP call categorisation each achieved similar sensitivity for the identification of OHCATR, identifying most of the same patients, but each captured unique patients. Using both methods sequentially improved accuracy. The 16% of OHCATR patients not identified by either method present a challenge to ambulance dispatch systems. https://emj.bmj.com/content/36/4/203. 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/emermed-2017-207354
    • Ambulance clinicians' perceptions, assessment and management of frailty: thematic analysis of focus groups

      Green, Jonathan; Kirby, Kim; Hope, Suzy (2018-12-01)
      Introduction: More than half of all patients attended by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust are over the age of 65. In 2017, 62% of older patients who were the subject of a frailty assessment were believed to have at least mild frailty (1/5 of all patients). Frailty is an increasingly relevant concept/diagnosis and ambulance services are well positioned to identify frailty and influence the 'care pathways' through which patients are directed (thereby influencing health outcomes). Throughout the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, a mandatory training session regarding frailty was delivered to clinical personnel in 2017 and frailty assessment tools are available on the electronic Patient Clinical Record. Aim: To explore and gain insight into the current knowledge, practice and attitudes of ambulance clinicians regarding frailty and patients with frailty. Methods: Two focus groups of ambulance clinicians (n = 8; n = 9) recruited from across the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust were held in October 2017. Focus group discussions were analysed thematically. Results: Knowledge of conceptual models of frailty, appropriate assessment of patients with frailty and appropriate care pathways varied substantially among focus group participants. Completion of the 'Rockwood' Clinical Frailty Scale for relevant patients has become routine. However, conflicting opinions were expressed regarding the context and purpose of this. The Timed-Up-and-Go mobility assessment tool is also on the electronic Patient Clinical Record, but difficulties regarding its completion were expressed.Patient management strategies ranged from treatment options which the ambulance service can provide, to referrals to primary/community care which can support the management of patients in their homes, and options to refer patients directly to hospital units or specialists with the aim of facilitating appropriate assessment, treatment and discharge. Perceptions of limited availability and geographical variability regarding these referral pathways was a major feature of the discussions, raising questions regarding awareness, capacity, inter-professional relationships and patient choice. Conclusion: Knowledge, practice and attitudes of ambulance staff, with regard to frailty, varied widely. This reflected the emerging nature of the condition, both academically and clinically, within the ambulance profession and the wider healthcare system. Abstract published with permission.
    • Research paramedics’ observations regarding the challenges and strategies employed in the implementation of a large-scale out-of-hospital randomised trial

      Green, Jonathan; Robinson, Maria; Pilbery, Richard; Whitley, Gregory; Hall, Helen; Clout, Madeleine; Reeves, Barnaby; Kirby, Kim; Benger, Jonathan (2020-06-01)
      Introduction: AIRWAYS-2 was a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing the clinical and cost effectiveness of the i-gel supraglottic airway device with tracheal intubation in the initial airway management of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). In order to successfully conduct this clinical trial, it was necessary for research paramedics to overcome multiple challenges, many of which will be relevant to future emergency medical service (EMS) research. This article aims to describe a number of the challenges that were encountered during the out-of-hospital phase of the AIRWAYS-2 trial and how these were overcome. Methods: The research paramedics responsible for conducting the pre-hospital phase of the trial were asked to reflect on their experience of facilitating the AIRWAYS-2 trial. Responses were then collated by the lead author. A process of iterative revision and review was undertaken by the research paramedics to produce a consensus of opinion. Results: The main challenges identified by the trial research paramedics related to the recruitment and training of paramedics, screening of eligible patients and investigation of protocol deviations / reporting errors. Even though a feasibility study was conducted prior to the commencement of AIRWAYS-2, the scale of these challenges was underestimated. Conclusion: Large-scale pragmatic cluster randomised trials are being successfully undertaken in out-of-hospital care. However, they require intensive engagement with EMS clinicians and local research paramedics, particularly when the intervention is contentious. Feasibility studies are an important part of research but may fail to identify all potential challenges. Therefore, flexibility is required to manage unforeseen difficulties. Abstract published with permission.