Accuracy of emergency medical service telephone triage of need for an ambulance response in suspected COVID-19: an observational cohort study

MARINCOWITZ, C., STONE, T., HASAN, M., CAMPBELL, R., BATH, P.A., TURNER, J., PILBERY, R., THOMAS, B.D., SUTTON, L., BELL, F., BIGGS, K., HOPFGARTNER, F., MAZUMDAR, S., PETRIE, J. and GOODACRE, S. (2022). Accuracy of emergency medical service telephone triage of need for an ambulance response in suspected COVID-19: an observational cohort study. BMJ open, 12 (5): e058628.

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Objective To assess accuracy of emergency medical service (EMS) telephone triage in identifying patients who need an EMS response and identify factors which affect triage accuracy. Design Observational cohort study. Setting Emergency telephone triage provided by Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) National Health Service (NHS) Trust. Participants 12 653 adults who contacted EMS telephone triage services provided by YAS between 2 April 2020 and 29 June 2020 assessed by COVID-19 telephone triage pathways were included. Outcome Accuracy of call handler decision to dispatch an ambulance was assessed in terms of death or need for organ support at 30 days from first contact with the telephone triage service. Results Callers contacting EMS dispatch services had an 11.1% (1405/12 653) risk of death or needing organ support. In total, 2000/12 653 (16%) of callers did not receive an emergency response and they had a 70/2000 (3.5%) risk of death or organ support. Ambulances were dispatched to 4230 callers (33.4%) who were not conveyed to hospital and did not deteriorate. Multivariable modelling found variables of older age (1 year increase, OR: 1.05, 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.05) and presence of pre-existing respiratory disease (OR: 1.35, 95% CI: 1.13 to 1.60) to be predictors of false positive triage. Conclusion Telephone triage can reduce ambulance responses but, with low specificity. A small but significant proportion of patients who do not receive an initial emergency response deteriorated. Research to improve accuracy of EMS telephone triage is needed and, due to limitations of routinely collected data, this is likely to require prospective data collection.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19; risk management; accident & emergency medicine; COVID-19; accident & emergency medicine; risk management; Adult; Ambulances; COVID-19; Cohort Studies; Data Collection; Emergency Medical Services; Humans; State Medicine; Telephone; Triage; Humans; Data Collection; Cohort Studies; Ambulances; Telephone; Adult; Emergency Medical Services; Triage; State Medicine; COVID-19; 1103 Clinical Sciences; 1117 Public Health and Health Services; 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences
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SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2022 11:38
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 11:00

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