• An alternative care pathway for suspected seizures in pre-hospital care: a service evaluation

      Dickson, Jon M.; Rawlings, Gregg H.; Grünewald, Richard A.; Miles, Kate; Mack, Carina; Heywood, Thomas; Reuber, Markus (2017-09)
      Abstract published with permission. Introduction ‐ An uncomplicated, self-limiting epileptic seizure in a patient with an established diagnosis of epilepsy usually requires only first aid, but in the UK it is estimated that 75% of these patients are transported to hospital and many are discharged without review or follow-up with an epilepsy specialist. Alternative care pathways have the potential to reduce unnecessary conveyance to hospital and to improve rates of epilepsy specialist follow-up, and thereby increase the quality and cost effectiveness of care. Methods ‐ A service evaluation of a new alternative care pathway in a regional ambulance service in the UK. The alternative care pathway allowed paramedics to refer eligible patients to an epilepsy specialist nurse service. Results ‐ The ambulance service managed 3964 suspected seizure incidents in the study period (1 July 2015‐31 May 2016), of which 22.5% (891/3964) were potentially eligible for the alternative care pathway. Of the potentially eligible incidents, 9.8% (87/891) were referred. The 87 incidents were generated by 74 individual patients. A total of 97.3% (71/73) patients were contacted within the target time of five days, the average time taken for each phone call was 10 minutes and the average additional work load generated by each call was 10 minutes. There was a positive outcome in 55% (48/87) of incidents. Conclusions ‐ An alternative care pathway for people after a suspected seizure has the potential to safely reduce rates of transport to hospital and to improve care for people with epilepsy. However, paramedics in our study used the alternative care pathway for only a small proportion of those patients who were potentially eligible. Further research is required to develop tools to support paramedics to confidently identify patients that are suitable for management without transport to hospital.
    • Awareness of CPR-induced consciousness by UK paramedics

      Mays, Ben; Gregory, Pete; Sudron, Ceri; Kilner, Tim (2019-06-01)
    • Consensus statement: a framework for safe and effective intubation by paramedics

      Gowens, Paul; Aitken-Fell, Paul; Broughton, William; Harris, Liz; Williams, Julia; Younger, Paul; Bywater, David; Crookston, Colin; Curatolo, Lisa; Edwards, Tim; et al. (2018-06)
      Abstract published with permission. This consensus statement provides profession-specific guidance in relation to tracheal intubation by paramedics ‐ a procedure that the College of Paramedics supports. Tracheal intubation by paramedics has been the subject of professional and legal debate as well as crown investigation. It is therefore timely that the College of Paramedics, through this consensus group, reviews the available evidence and expert opinion in order to prevent patient harm and promote patient safety, clinical effectiveness and professional standards. It is not the purpose of this consensus statement to remove the skill of tracheal intubation from paramedics. Neither is it intended to debate the efficacy of intubation or the effect on mortality or morbidity, as other formal research studies will answer those questions. The consensus of this group is that paramedics can perform tracheal intubation safely and effectively. However, a safe, well-governed system of continual training, education and competency must be in place to serve both patients and the paramedics delivering their care.
    • How do paramedics learn and maintain the skill of tracheal intubation? A rapid evidence review

      Pilbery, Richard (2018-09)
      Abstract published with permission. Introduction: Endotracheal intubation has been considered a core skill for all paramedics since the inception of the profession in the 1970s, and continues to be taught within the majority of pre-registration paramedic training programmes. However, the standards of both training and assessment of competence in intubation vary considerably between institutions; this has been compounded by reduced opportunities for supervised clinical practice within the operating theatre environment. The College of Paramedics’ Airway Working Group commissioned a rapid evidence review, to inform a consensus statement on paramedic intubation, with the research question: How do paramedics learn and maintain the skill of tracheal intubation? Methods: Rapid evidence reviews are literature reviews that use methods to accelerate or streamline the traditional systematic review process. Randomised controlled trials, quasi-randomised controlled trials, prospective and retrospective observational studies, systematic reviews and qualitative studies, published from 1970 onwards, were all eligible for inclusion. The search was restricted to paramedics/paramedic students and learning/maintaining the skill of tracheal intubation. Results: A comprehensive search of CINAHL, MEDLINE and Google Scholar was undertaken. Ten papers were classed as sufficiently relevant for inclusion. They identified that there is no clear definition of a paramedic having ‘learnt’ the skill of intubation. Suggested measures include first-pass success of 90% for pre-hospital intubation, or a range of measures, such as intubation success and complication rates, laryngoscopy technique and decision-making. Intubation training should use a range of modalities, including didactic lectures, videos and practical sessions on multiple types of airway manikins. Supervision by experienced faculty is required. Little is known about how paramedics maintain their skill in intubation, given the lack of clinical opportunity. Yearly skills retraining can help, and can be enhanced by demonstrations/lectures from experienced faculty. Conclusion: Further research is needed to understand how paramedics maintain their skill in intubation, given the limited opportunities to use the skill in a clinical setting and lack of opportunities with UK ambulance services for retraining.
    • The impact of an ambulance vehicle preparation service on the presence of bacteria: a service evaluation

      Mackenzie, Mo; Pilbery, Richard (2019-03-01)
      Introduction: Around 300,000 patients a year in England acquire a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) while being cared for by the NHS. The contribution from NHS Ambulance Services is not known, but previous studies have identified the presence of pathogenic bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Enterococcus, including resistant strains in some cases, inside ambulances. To improve ambulance cleanliness, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) piloted an Ambulance Vehicle Preparation Service (AVPS) at two ambulance stations, where staff were tasked with ensuring every ambulance at these stations was cleaned every 24 hours. Methods: Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence testing was conducted on 16 ambulances at the two pilot AVPS stations and on 18 ambulances at four ‘business as usual’ (BAU) ambulance stations using a Hygiena SystemSURE luminometer. Swabs were obtained from 10 pre-selected locations inside each ambulance. Results: Between November 2016 and August 2018, a total of 690 swabs were obtained and recorded from 34 ambulances. Overall, median relative light unit (RLU) values for both groups were < 100, with only the BAU group having an upper quartile value > 100. However, when stratified by swabbing area, three areas had a median RLU of > 100 in the BAU group: suction unit handle, steering wheel and airway seat shelf. In addition, the upper quartile RLU values for the grab rail above the stretcher and the passenger seat in the BAU group were also > 100. No swab areas had a median RLU > 100 in the AVPS group. Conclusion: A dedicated AVPS results in better cleaning of ambulance vehicles than the existing cleaning system utilising operational crews. The areas most likely to be contaminated are the suction unit handle, steering wheel, airway seat shelf and grab rails. The position of equipment and the materials that equipment are constructed from should have infection prevention and control (IPC) as a consideration. Abstract published with permission.
    • Introducing BestBETs

      Pilbery, Richard; Mackway-Jones, Kevin C. (2016-05)
    • The management of shock-resistant arrhythmias: a clinical audit

      Pilbery, Richard; Lowery-Richardson, Kirsty; Standen, Simon (2017-06)
      Abstract published with permission. Background/rationale – Although defibrillation has been shown to improve outcome from cardiac arrest, there is a group of patients that presents with ventricular fibrillation/pulseless ventricular tachycardia that is resistant to defibrillation. In these patients, amiodarone has been shown to improve short-term outcome of survival to hospital admission and improve the response to defibrillation. In addition, refractory ventricular fibrillation may fail to be terminated by pads placed in the standard sternal-apical position, and consideration of a pad-position change is advocated by current UK and European resuscitation guidelines. The aim of this audit was to determine Yorkshire Ambulance Service ambulance crew compliance with current resuscitation guidelines, for adult patients with shockable rhythms that are resistant to defibrillation. Methods – All adult ($ 18 years) medical cardiac arrests during the audit period (1 July 2016–30 September 2016) presenting with ventricular fibrillation/pulseless ventricular tachycardia, and requiring three or more shocks, were reviewed for compliance with three standards. These standards related to the appropriate administration of amiodarone (first 300 mg dose and second 150 mg dose), and pad position change (or consideration of change) for refractory ventricular fibrillation/pulseless ventricular tachycardia after five shocks. Results – Within the audit period dates, there were 1584 adult cardiac arrests, with resuscitation attempted in 635 incidents. The presenting rhythm was ventricular fibrillation/pulseless ventricular tachycardia in 176 of cases. In the audit sample, there were 53 documented 300 mg amiodarone administrations and 22 documented 150 mg amiodarone administrations. One patient received 150 mg amiodarone but not a first dose of 300 mg. Of the patients who received three or more shocks, 94.9% (94/99) had IV access. It was possible to determine the sequence of rhythms for 76.3% (29/38) of the cardiac arrests that received more than five shocks. Of these patients, 26 had a refractory ventricular fibrillation/pulseless ventricular tachycardia and one patient had a pad position change, or documented consideration of a pad position change. Conclusion – Compliance with amiodarone administration in shock-resistant arrhythmias is poor and pad position change is not being considered by clinicians for patients in refractory ventricular fibrillation/pulseless ventricular tachycardia. A review of advanced life support training provision and assessment is required within Yorkshire Ambulance Service, and strategies for increasing awareness of amiodarone administration in eligible patients and pad position change are needed.
    • Pre-hospital hypoglycaemia referral pathways

      Bell, Fiona; Fitzpatrick, David (2016-12)
      Abstract published with permission. A short-cut review was carried out to determine whether referral to specialist diabetes services by ambulance crews improves long-term management of a patient’s diabetes. A total of 269 papers were found, of which three represented the best evidence to address the clinical question. The clinical bottom line is that specialist diabetes referrals by ambulance crews responding to an emergency call for hypoglycaemia may be beneficial for patients, although there is insufficient evidence to determine their impact.
    • 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.
    • A service evaluation of transport destination and outcome of patients with post-ROSC STEMI in an English ambulance service

      Platt, Anthony (2020-06-01)
      Background: In the UK, there are approximately 60,000 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) each year. There is mounting evidence that post-resuscitation care should include early angiography and primary percutaneous coronary intervention (pPCI) in cases of OHCA where a cardiac cause is suspected. Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) staff can transport patients with a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) directly to a pPCI unit if their post-ROSC ECG shows evidence of ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). This service evaluation aimed to determine the factors that affect the transport destination, hospital characteristics and 30-day survival rates of post-ROSC patients with presumed cardiac aetiology. Methods: All patient care records (PCRs) previously identified for the AIRWAYS-2 trial between January and July 2017 were reviewed. Patients were eligible for inclusion if they were an adult non-traumatic OHCA, achieved ROSC on scene and were treated and transported by (YAS). Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. Results: 478 patients met the inclusion criteria. 361/478 (75.6%) patients had a post-ROSC ECG recorded, with 149/361 (41.3%) documented cases of STEMI and 88/149 (59.1%) referred to a pPCI unit by the attending clinicians. 40/88 (45.5%) of referrals made were accepted by the pPCI units. Patients taken directly to pPCI were most likely to survive to 30 days (25/39, 53.8%), compared to patients taken to an emergency department (ED) at a pPCI-capable hospital (34/126, 27.0%), or an ED at a non-pPCI-capable hospital (50/310, 16.1%). Conclusion: Staff should be encouraged to record a 12-lead ECG on all post-ROSC patients, and make a referral to the regional pPCI-capable centre if there is evidence of a STEMI, or a cardiac cause is likely, since 30-day survival is highest for patients who are taken directly for pPCI. Ambulance services should continue to work with regional pPCI-capable centres to ensure that suitable patients are accepted to maximise potential for survival. Abstract published with permission.
    • Soiled airway tracheal intubation and the effectiveness of decontamination by paramedics: a randomised controlled manikin study protocol

      Pilbery, Richard; Teare, M. Dawn; Millins, Mark (2018-12)
      Abstract published with permission. Vomiting and regurgitation are commonly encountered in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with a reported incidence of 20‐30%. Arguably, tracheal intubation is the preferred airway management technique in patients with ongoing airway contamination, but there is evidence that this is difficult to achieve when the airway is soiled. In addition, traditional suctioning techniques have been criticised, and training in the management of contaminated airways is limited. If standard suctioning techniques are not sufficient to maintain a clear airway and provide ventilation, then these patients will die, irrespective of the quality of chest compressions and the timeliness of defibrillation. This has led to the development of a combined suction/laryngoscopy technique to facilitate intubation, known as Suction Assisted Laryngoscopy and Airway Decontamination, and the creation of modified airway manikins to allow for practice in these techniques. However, to date there has only been one study specifically looking at the Suction Assisted Laryngoscopy and Airway Decontamination technique, and the outcomes were self-reported confidence measures of trainees in using the technique. The primary objective of Soiled Airway Tracheal Intubation and the Effectiveness of Decontamination is to determine the difference between paramedic first-pass intubation success, before and after Suction Assisted Laryngoscopy and Airway Decontamination training, in a simulated soiled airway. The primary outcome is the difference in proportions of paramedic first-pass intubation success, before and after Suction Assisted Laryngoscopy and Airway Decontamination training. Paramedic recruitment commenced in July 2018 and the study will enrol 154 paramedics by the end of 2018. The results of this study will contribute to the evidence relating to the Suction Assisted Laryngoscopy and Airway Decontamination technique.
    • Suicide among ambulance service staff: a review of coroner and employment records

      Mars, Becky; Hird, Kelly; Bell, Fiona; James, Cathryn; Gunnell, David (2020-03-01)
      Background: There is growing evidence to suggest that ambulance service staff may be at increased risk for suicide; however, few studies have explored risk factors within this occupational group. Aim: To investigate factors commonly associated with ambulance staff suicides. Method: Eleven ambulance service trusts across the United Kingdom were asked to return details of staff suicides occurring between January 2014 and December 2015. Coroners were then contacted to request permission to review the records of the deceased. Results: Fifteen suicides were identified (73% male, mean age 42 years). Inquest data were available on 12 deaths. The most common method used was hanging. Possible risk factors identified included recent return to work following a period of sickness absence, poor mental health, relationship and debt problems, history of self-harm and the loss of a driving licence/change in job role. Conclusion: Identifying characteristics of suicide among this high-risk group is important to inform the development of suicide prevention initiatives. Additional research is needed with an adequate control group to further explore the risk factors identified in this study. This abstract has been published with permission
    • A survey of paramedic advanced airway practice in the UK

      Younger, Paul; Pilbery, Richard; Lethbridge, Kris (2016-12)
      Abstract published with permission. Introduction ‐ Although there are published studies examining UK paramedic airway management in the out-of-hospital setting, there has been no sizeable survey of practicing UK paramedics that examines their advanced airway management practice, training and confidence. Therefore, the Airway Management Group of the College of Paramedics commissioned a survey to gain an up to date snapshot of advanced airway management practice across the UK among paramedics. Methods ‐ An online questionnaire was created, and a convenience sample of Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered paramedics was invited to participate in the survey. Invitations were made using the College of Paramedics e-mail mailing list, the College website, as well as social media services such as Twitter and Facebook. The survey ran online for 28 days from 21 October to 18 November 2014 to allow as many paramedics to participate as possible. The survey questions considered a range of topics including which supraglottic airway devices are most commonly available in practice and whether or not tracheal intubation also formed a part of individual skillsets. In relation to intubation, respondents were asked a range of questions including which education programmes had been used for original skill acquisition, how skills were maintained, what techniques and equipment were available for intubation attempts, individual practitioner confidence in intubation and how intubation attempts were documented. Results ‐ A total of 1658 responses to the survey were received. Following data cleansing, 152 respondents were removed from the survey, leaving a total of 1506. This represented 7.3% of paramedics registered with the HCPC (20,565) at the time the survey was conducted. The majority of respondents were employed within NHS ambulance services. Summary ‐ This is the largest survey of UK paramedics conducted to date, in relation to advanced airway management. It provides an overview of advanced airway management, with a particular focus on intubation, being conducted by UK paramedics.
    • Using vignettes to assess the accuracy and rationale of paramedic decisions on conveyance to the emergency department

      Miles, Jamie; Coster, Joanne; Jacques, Richard (2019-06-01)
      Introduction: Paramedics make important decisions about whether a patient needs transport to hospital, or can be discharged on scene. These decisions require a degree of accuracy, as taking low acuity patients to the emergency department (ED) can support ambulance ramping. In contrast, leaving mid‐high acuity patients on scene can lead to incidents and recontact. This study aims to investigate the accuracy of conveyance decisions made by paramedics when looking at real life patient scenarios with known outcomes. It also aims to explore how the paramedic made the decision. Methods: We undertook a prospective mixed method triangulation design. Six individual patient vignettes were created using linked ambulance and ED data. These were then presented in an online survey to paramedics in Yorkshire. Half the vignettes related to mid‐high acuity attendances at the ED and the other half were low acuity. Vignettes were validated by a small expert panel. Participants were asked to determine the appropriate conveyance decision and to explain the rationale behind their decisions using a free-text box. Results: A total of 143 paramedics undertook the survey and 858 vignettes were completed. There was clear agreement between paramedics for transport decisions ( = 0.63). Overall accuracy was 0.69 (95% CI 0.66‐0.73). Paramedics were better at ‘ruling in’ the ED, with sensitivity of 0.89 (95% CI 0.86‐0.92). The specificity of ‘ruling out’ the ED was 0.51 (95% CI 0.46‐0.56). Text comments were focused on patient safety and risk aversion. Discussion: Paramedics make accurate conveyance decisions but are more likely to over-convey than under-convey, meaning that while decisions are safe they are not always appropriate. It is important that paramedics feel supported by the service to make safe and confident non-conveyance decisions. Reducing over-conveyance is a potential method of reducing demand in the urgent and emergency care system. Abstract published with permission.