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Alternatives to direct emergency department conveyance of ambulance patients: a scoping review of the evidence

Blodgett, JM; Robertson, DJ; Pennington, E; Ratcliffe, D; Rockwood, K; (2021) Alternatives to direct emergency department conveyance of ambulance patients: a scoping review of the evidence. Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine , 29 10.1186/s13049-020-00821-x. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The role of ambulance services is shifting, due in part to more intermediate, non-urgent patients who do not require direct emergency department conveyance, yet who cannot be safely left at home alone. Evidence surrounding the safety, effectiveness and efficiency of alternate care routes is not well known. METHODS: This scoping review sought to identify all studies that examined alternate routes of care for the non-urgent “intermediate” patient, as triaged on scene. Search terms for the sample (ambulances, paramedics, etc.) and intervention (e.g. referrals, alternate care route, non-conveyance) were combined. Articles were systematically searched using four databases and grey literature sources (February 2020). Independent researchers screened title-abstract and full text stages. RESULTS: Of 16,037 records, 41 examined alternate routes of care after triage by the on-scene paramedic. Eighteen articles considered quantitative patient data, 12 studies provided qualitative perspectives while 11 were consensus or opinion-based articles. The benefits of alternative schemes are well-recognised by patients, paramedics and stakeholders and there is supporting evidence for a positive impact on patient-centered care and operational efficiency. Challenges to successful use of schemes included: patient safety resulting from incorrect triage decisions, inadequate training, lack of formal partnerships between ambulance and supporting services, and insufficient evidence to support safe implementation or continued use. Studies often inaccurately defined success using proxies for patient safety (e.g. decision comparisons, rates of secondary contact). Finally, patients expressed willingness for such schemes but their preference must be better understood. CONCLUSIONS: This broad summary offers initial support for alternate routes of care for intermediate, non-urgent patients. Even so, most studies lacked methodologically rigorous evidence and failed to evaluate safe patient outcomes. Some remedies appear to be available such as formal triage pathways, targeted training and organisational support, however there is an urgent need for more research and dissemination in this area.

Type: Article
Title: Alternatives to direct emergency department conveyance of ambulance patients: a scoping review of the evidence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s13049-020-00821-x
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13049-020-00821-x
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Keywords: Ambulance, Alternative care routes, Non-emergency medical care, Pre-hospital emergency care, Scoping review, Referrals
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci > Department of Targeted Intervention
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127208
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