Evaluation of a training program for emergency medical service physician dispatc

Evaluation of a training program for emergency medical service physician dispatchers to reduce emergency departments visits

Amandine Foucaud, Thomas Gilbert, Adélaïde Vincent, Nathalie Jomard, Brigitte Comte, Sylvie Porthault, Gaële Comte, Odile Theurey, Pierre-Yves Gueugniaud, Laura Bourelly, Muriel Rabilloud, Florent Boutitie, Marion Douplat, Ouazna Tassa, Julie Haesebaert, Anne Termoz, Anne-Marie Schott

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2023 Feb;71(2):484-495. Epub 2022 Nov 1.

Background: Emergency Departments (ED) have seen an increasing number of older patients who are mostly referred following a call to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Long waiting times in settings, which are not designed to meet older patients' needs, may increase the risk of hospital-acquired complications. Unnecessary visits should therefore be avoided as much as possible. The objective of the study was to evaluate whether a program to provide geriatric knowledge and tools to the dispatching physicians of the EMS could decrease ED referrals of older patients.

Methods: Design: Before-and-after study with two 6-month periods before and after intervention.

Participants: All calls received by a dispatching physician of the Rhône EMS from 8 am to 6 pm concerning patients aged 75 years or above during the study period.

Intervention: A program consisting of training dispatching physicians in the specific care of older patients and the developing, with a multidisciplinary team, of specific tools for dispatching physicians.

Outcome: Proportion of ED referrals of patients aged 75 years or above after a call to the EMS.

Results: A total of 2671 calls to the Rhône EMS were included corresponding to 1307 and 1364 patients in the pre-and post-intervention phases, respectively. There was no significant difference in the proportion of referrals to the ED between the pre-intervention (61.7%) and the post-intervention (62.8%) phases (p = 0.57). Contact of the patients with their General Practitioner (GP) in the month preceding the call was associated with a 22% reduced probability of being referred to an ED.

Conclusions: No beneficial effect of the intervention was demonstrated. This strategy of intervention is probably not effective enough in such time-constraint environment. Other strategies with a specific parallel dispatching of geriatric calls by geriatricians should be tested to avoid these unnecessary ED referrals.

PMID: 36317929  DOI: 10.1111/jgs.18101

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