Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health
A Detailed Analysis of Prehospital Interventions in Common Medical Priority Dispatch System Determinants
- Author(s): Sporer, Karl A
- Johnson, Nicholas J
- et al.
Background: Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) is a type of Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) system used to prioritize 9-1-1 calls and optimize resource allocation. Dispatchers use a series of scripted questions to assign determinants to calls based on chief complaint and acuity.
Objective: We analyzed the prehospital interventions performed on patients with MPDS determinants for breathing problems, chest pain, unknown problem (man down), seizures, fainting (unconscious) and falls for transport status and interventions.
Methods: We matched all prehospital patients in complaint-based categories for breathing problems, chest pain, unknown problem (man down), seizures, fainting (unconscious) and falls from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2006, with their prehospital record. Calls were queried for the following prehospital interventions: Basic Life Support care only, intravenous line placement only, medication given, procedures or non-transport. We defined Advanced Life Support (ALS) interventions as the administration of a medication or a procedure.
Results: Of the 77,394 MPDS calls during this period, 31,318 (40%) patients met inclusion criteria. Breathing problems made up 12.2%, chest pain 6%, unknown problem 1.4%, seizures 3%, falls 9% and unconscious/fainting 9% of the total number of MPDS calls. Patients with breathing problem had a low rate of procedures (0.7%) and cardiac arrest medications (1.6%) with 38% receiving some medication. Chest pain patients had a similar distribution; procedures (0.5%), cardiac arrest medication (1.5%) and any medication (64%). Unknown problem: procedures (1%), cardiac arrest medication (1.3%), any medication (18%). Patients with Seizures had a low rate of procedures (1.1%) and cardiac arrest medications (0.6%) with 20% receiving some medication. Fall patients had a lower rate of severe illness with more medication, mostly morphine: procedures (0.2%), cardiac arrest medication (0.2%), all medications (28%). Unconscious/fainting patients received the following interventions: procedures (0.3%), cardiac arrest medication (1.9%), all medications (32%). Few stepwise increases in the rate of procedures or medications were seen as determinants increased in acuity.
Conclusion: Among these common MPDS complaint-based categories, the rates of advanced procedures and cardiac arrest medications were low. ALS medications were common in all categories and most determinants. Multiple determinants were rarely used and did not show higher rates of interventions with increasing acuity. Many MPDS determinants are of modest use to predict ALS intervention. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(1):19-29.]