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Community paramedics treat high acuity conditions in the home: a prospective observational study
  1. Karen Anna Abrashkin1,
  2. Asantewaa Poku1,
  3. Alyeah Ramjit2,
  4. Jonathan Washko2,
  5. Jenny Zhang3,
  6. Michael Guttenberg2 and
  7. Kristofer Lawrence Smith1
  1. 1Health Solutions, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, New York, USA
  2. 2Center for Emergency Medical Services, Northwell Health, Syosset, New York, USA
  3. 3Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Hempstead, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Karen Anna Abrashkin, Health Solutions, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, NY 11042, USA; kabrashkin{at}northwell.edu

Abstract

Objectives As the US population ages and healthcare reimbursement shifts, identifying new patient-centred, cost-effective models to address acute medical needs will become increasingly important. This study examined whether community paramedics can evaluate and treat, under the direction of a credentialed physician, high acuity medical conditions in the home within an advanced illness management (AIM) practice.

Methods A prospective observational study of an urban/suburban community paramedicine (CP) programme, with responses initiated based on AIM-practice protocols and triaged prior to dispatch using the Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System (AMPDS). Primary outcome was association between AMPDS acuity levels and emergency department (ED) transport rates. Secondary outcomes were ED presentations at 24 and 48 hours post-visit, and patient/caregiver survey results.

Results 1159 individuals received 2378 CP responses over 4 years. Average age was 86 years; dementia, heart failure and asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were prevalent. Using AMPDS, most common reasons for dispatch included ‘breathing problems’ (28.2%), ‘sick person’ (26.5%) and ‘falls’ (13.1%). High acuity responses were most prevalent. 17.9% of all responses and 21.0% of high acuity responses resulted in ED transport. Within 48 hours of the visit, only 5.7% of the high acuity responses not initially transported were transported to the ED. Patient/caregiver satisfaction rates were high.

Conclusion Community paramedics, operating within an AIM programme, can evaluate and treat a range of conditions, including high acuity conditions, in the home that would typically result in ED transport in a conventional 911 system. This model may provide an effective means for avoiding hospital-based care, allowing older adults to age in place.

  • advanced illness management
  • house calls
  • community paramedicine
  • ampds
  • pre-hospital care

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors JW and KLS conceived of the programme. KAA, AR, AP and JZ designed the study. KAA and MG supervised the conduct of the research. AP and JZ performed the data analysis. KAA drafted the manuscript and all authors contributed substantially to its revision. KAA takes responsibility for the paper as a whole.

  • Funding This programme and research study was supported by Northwell Health.

  • Competing interests JW provides consulting services for EMS agencies.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Northwell Health Institutional Review Board (IRB), study 15-243. Documentation of informed consent was not required due to the nature of the study (retrospective chart review) as per IRB protocols.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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