Comparison of services and identification of factors important for favourable patient outcomes in emergency medical services (EMS) is challenging due to different organization and quality of data. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the feasibility of physician-staffed EMS (p-EMS) to collect patient and system level data by using a consensus-based template.
The study was an international multicentre observational study. Data were collected according to a template for uniform reporting of data from p-EMS using two different data collection methods; a standard and a focused data collection method. For the standard data collection, data were extracted retrospectively for one year from all FinnHEMS bases and for the focused data collection, data were collected prospectively for six weeks from four selected Norwegian p-EMS bases. Completeness rates for the two data collection methods were then compared and factors affecting completeness rates and template feasibility were evaluated. Standard Chi-Square, Fisher's Exact Test and Mann-Whitney U Test were used for group comparison of categorical and continuous data, respectively, and Kolomogorov-Smirnov test for comparison of distributional properties.
All missions with patient encounters were included, leaving 4437 Finnish and 128 Norwegian missions eligible for analysis. Variable completeness rates indicated that physiological variables were least documented. Information on pain and respiratory rate were the most frequently missing variables with a standard data collection method and systolic blood pressure was the most missing variable with a focused data collection method. Completeness rates were similar or higher when patients were considered severely ill or injured but were lower for missions with short patient encounter. When a focused data collection method was used, completeness rates were higher compared to a standard data collection method.
We found that a focused data collection method increased data capture compared to a standard data collection method. The concept of using a template for documentation of p-EMS data is feasible in physician-staffed services in Finland and Norway. The greatest deficiencies in completeness rates were evident for physiological parameters. Short missions were associated with lower completeness rates whereas severe illness or injury did not result in reduced data capture.