BACKGROUND: Certain aspects (frequency and management) of medical emergencies in Norwegian communities are not adequately documented. Previous studies indicate an annual case incidence rate of about 10 per 1000 inhabitants. This article presents results of a recording of medical emergencies (during a 2-year period) in the Norwegian island community Austevoll (4400 citizens) south of Bergen (without a mainland connection). MATERIAL AND METHODS: Data on a variety of aspects were recorded on medical emergencies, defined as incidents where the doctor found it necessary to take immediate action. Data on these occurrences were recorded into questionnaires by all doctors and ambulance personnel in Austevoll in the period 1 October 2005 to 30 September 2007. RESULTS: 236 medical emergencies were documented. This corresponds to 27 incidents per 1000 inhabitants per year. 84 % of the emergencies were acute illnesses and 16 % were accidents. The emergencies occurred in the patients' home or other dwelling in 71 % of the cases. In Austevoll, the doctor is the first personnel category to reach to the patient in 52 % of cases. INTERPRETATION: This study estimates a higher incidence of medical emergencies than previous records. A likely reason is that the municipal medical services have been the point of observation in our study, while previous studies have counted incidents recorded in the emergency medical communication centres.
Comment In: Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2009 Jun 25;129(13):1351-219561664