The principles of evidence-based medicine are applicable to all areas and professionals in health care. The care provided by paramedics in the prehospital setting is no exception. The Prehospital Evidence-based Protocols Project Online (PEP) is a repository of appraised research evidence that is applicable to interventions performed in the prehospital setting and is openly available online. This article describes the history, current status, and potential future of the project.
The primary objective of the PEP is to catalog and grade emergency medical services (EMS) studies with a level of evidence (LOE). Subsequently, each prehospital intervention is assigned a class of recommendation (COR) based on all the appraised articles on that intervention, in an effort to organize the evidence so it may be put into practice efficiently. An LOE is assigned to each article by the section editor, based on the study rigor and applicability to EMS. The section editor committee consists of EMS physicians and paramedics from across Canada, and two from Ireland and a paramedic coordinator. The evidence evaluation cycle is continuous; as the section editors send back appraisals, the coordinator updates the database and sends out another article for review.
The database currently has 182 individual interventions organized under 103 protocols, with 933 citations.
This project directly meets recent recommendations to improve EMS by using evidence to support interventions and incorporating it into protocols. Organizing and grading the evidence allows medical directors and paramedics to incorporate research findings into their daily practice. As such, this project demonstrates how knowledge translation can be conducted in EMS.
This systematic review included controlled clinical trials comparing tracheal intubation (TI) with alternative airway techniques (AAT) (bag mask ventilation and use of extraglottic devices) performed by paramedics in the prehospital setting. A priori outcomes to be assessed were survival, neurologic outcome, airway management success rates and complications. We identified trials using EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library, Web of Science, author contacts and hand searching. We included 5 trials enrolling a total of 1559 patients. No individual study showed any statistical difference in outcomes between the TI and AAT groups. Because of study heterogeneity, we did not pool the data. This is the most comprehensive review to date on paramedic trials. Owing to the heterogeneity of prehospital systems, administrators of each system must individually consider their airway management protocols.
To establish consensus on the most important clinical decisions paramedics make during high-acuity emergency calls and to visualize these decisions on a process map of an emergency call. A secondary objective was to measure agreement among paramedics and medical director panel members.
A multiround online survey of Canadian paramedics and medical directors. In round 1, participants listed important clinical decisions. In round 2, participants scored each decision in terms of its importance for patient outcome and safety. In rounds 3 and 4, participants could revise their scores. Consensus was defined a priori: 80% or more agreement that a decision was important or extremely important. The included decisions were plotted on a process map of a typical emergency call.
The panel response rates were as follows: round 1, 96%; round 2, 92%; round 3, 83%; and round 4, 96%. Consensus was reached on 42 decisions, grouped into six categories: airway management (n ?=? 13); assessment (n ?=? 3); cardiac management (n ?=? 7); drug administration (n ?=? 9); scene management (n ?=? 4); and general treatment (n ?=? 6). The on-scene treatment phase of the process map was found to have the highest decision density. Paramedics and medical directors differed in their scoring in 5 of 42 decisions (p
As the role of emergency medical services (EMS) continues to expand, EMS physicians and medical directors require special skills and training to keep pace with the rapidly evolving subspecialty of EMS. In Canada, subspecialty training in EMS is still relatively new, and a standard national curriculum for physician EMS training does not exist.
To develop a national EMS curriculum for emergency medicine (EM) residents and fellows and an abbreviated curriculum for non-EM trainees and community physicians.
The authors obtained EMS curricula and opportunities from Canadian EM and EMS training programs and a sample of U.S. programs to determine existing curricula, and developed a framework for a national EMS curriculum using an expert working group of EMS medical directors and EMS leaders in Canada.
Canadian EM residency training programs included an EMS rotation, but their content and depth of training were not uniform. The expert working group proposed a comprehensive set of training objectives, grouped into 16 categories, stratified by level of training.
The proposed framework and objectives are suitable for training medical students, family medicine trainees, community physicians, EM residents, and EMS fellows in Canada. The authors hope this article will serve as a guideline for residency and fellowship directors to develop their EMS training programs in a consistent manner, promote formal training for physicians involved in EMS, and help define the specific knowledge and expertise required of physicians who provide EMS medical direction in Canada.
Many health care disciplines use evidence-based decision making to improve patient care and system performance. While the amount and quality of emergency medical services (EMS) research in Canada has increased over the past two decades, there has not been a unified national plan to enable research, ensure efficient use of research resources, guide funding decisions and build capacity in EMS research. Other countries have used research agendas to identify barriers and opportunities in EMS research and define national research priorities. The objective of this project is to develop a national EMS research agenda for Canada that will: 1) explore what barriers to EMS research currently exist, 2) identify current strengths and opportunities that may be of benefit to advancing EMS research, 3) make recommendations to overcome barriers and capitalize on opportunities, and 4) identify national EMS research priorities.
Paramedics, educators, EMS managers, medical directors, researchers and other key stakeholders from across Canada will be purposefully recruited to participate in this mixed methods study, which consists of three phases: 1) qualitative interviews with a selection of the study participants, who will be asked about their experience and opinions about the four study objectives, 2) a facilitated roundtable discussion, in which all participants will explore and discuss the study objectives, and 3) an online Delphi consensus survey, in which all participants will be asked to score the importance of each topic discovered during the interviews and roundtable as they relate to the study objectives. Results will be analyzed to determine the level of consensus achieved for each topic.
A mixed methods approach will be used to address the four study objectives. We anticipate that the keys to success will be: 1) ensuring a representative sample of EMS stakeholders, 2) fostering an open and collaborative roundtable discussion, and 3) adhering to a predefined approach to measure consensus on each topic. Steps have been taken in the methodology to address each of these a priori concerns.
The scope of practice of paramedics in Canada has steadily evolved to include increasingly complex interventions in the prehospital setting, which likely have repercussions on clinical outcome and patient safety. Clinical decision making has been evaluated in several health professions, but there is a paucity of work in this area on paramedics. This study will utilize the Delphi technique to establish consensus on the most important instances of paramedic clinical decision making during high acuity emergency calls, as they relate to clinical outcome and patient safety.
Participants in this multi-round survey study will be paramedic leaders and emergency medical services medical directors/physicians from across Canada. In the first round, participants will identify instances of clinical decision making they feel are important for patient outcome and safety. On the second round, the panel will rank each instance of clinical decision making in terms of its importance. On the third and potentially fourth round, participants will have the opportunity to revise the ranking they assigned to each instance of clinical decision making. Consensus will be considered achieved for the most important instances if 80% of the panel ranks it as important or extremely important. The most important instances of clinical decision making will be plotted on a process analysis map.
The process analysis map that results from this Delphi study will enable the gaps in research, knowledge and practice to be identified.