Research shows how paramedics can cut number of patients going to hospital

Press Release – University of Otago
New research from Otago University has revealed that sending extended care paramedics to emergency ambulance visits dramatically cuts the number of patients going to hospital. Wellington Free Ambulance says the research results support the use of extended care paramedics for after-hours emergency care in Kapiti.

The Otago University researchers, led by Wellington Free Ambulance Executive Manager Clinical Services Sarah Hoyle, looked at 1000 cases attended by extended care paramedics in Kapiti over a ten month period.

There was a reduction of more than 30% in the number of patients being taken to a hospital emergency department.

“When a standard paramedic answered an emergency ambulance call during this trial period 74 per cent of the patients were taken to hospital. But when an extended care paramedic attended, only 40 per cent of the patients were taken to hospital. Most of the other patients were treated either at home or by

a G.P later in the week,” says Ms Hoyle.

The study reports that in each case, the extended care paramedics’ treatment of a patient was judged appropriate by an emergency medicine specialist.

“The study has found that the ECP’s followed clinical protocols appropriate to the patient’s condition. This shows that sending paramedics with extra training on emergency ambulance visits reduces the need to take patients to hospital,” says Ms Hoyle.

Ms Hoyle says WFA has 6 extended care paramedics specially trained for the service who are rostered 24/7 in Kapiti.

“These extended care paramedics have been highly trained specifically for this service. They have attended an intensive two week course developed by the WFA clinical education team and the medical director. They have had training from Capital Coast District Health Board medical experts, have a monthly clinical development day and spend one day a month in specialist areas like the emergency department at Wellington Hospital.”

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