Author(s): Staff T, Svik S
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Few studies have evaluated pre-hospital documentation quality. We retrospectively assessed emergency medical service (EMS) documentation of key logistic, physiologic, and mechanistic variables in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). METHODS: Records from police, Emergency Medical Communication Centers (EMCC), ground and air ambulances were retrospectively collected for 189 MVAs involving 392 patients. Documentation of Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), respiratory rate (RR), and systolic blood pressure (SBP) was classified as exact values, RTS categories, clinical descriptions enabling post-hoc inference of RTS categories, or missing. The distribution of values of exact versus inferred RTS categories were compared (Chi-square test for trend). RESULTS: 25\% of ground and 11\% of air ambulance records were unretrieveable. Patient name, birth date, and transport destination was documented in >96\% of ambulance records and 81\% of EMCC reports. Only 54\% of patient encounter times were transmitted to the EMCC, but 77\% were documented in ground and 96\% in air ambulance records. Ground ambulance records documented exact values of GCS in 48\% and SBP in 53\% of cases, exact RR in 10\%, and RR RTS categories in 54\%. Clinical descriptions made post-hoc inference of RTS categories possible in another 49\% of cases for GCS, 26\% for RR, and 20\% for SBP. Air ambulance records documented exact values of GCS in 89\% and SBP in 84\% of cases, exact RR in 7\% and RR RTS categories in 80\%. Overall, for lower RTS categories of GCS, RR and SBP the proportion of actual documented values to inferred values increased (All: p<0.001). Also, documentation of repeated assessment was more frequent for low RTS categories of GCS, RR, and SBP (All: p<0.001). Mechanism of injury was documented in 80\% of cases by ground and 92\% of cases by air ambulance. CONCLUSION: EMS documentation of logistic and mechanistic variables was adequate. Patient physiology was frequently documented only as descriptive text. Our finding indicates a need for improved procedures, training, and tools for EMS documentation. Documentation is in itself a quality criterion for appropriate care and is crucial to trauma research. © 2011 Staff and Søvik; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This article was published in Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med
and referenced in Emergency Medicine: Open Access