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How well do emergency medical dispatch codes predict prehospital medication administration in a diverse urban community?

  • Author(s): Sporer, Karl A;
  • Wilson, Keith G
  • et al.


The Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) is an emergency medical dispatch (EMD) system that is widely used to prioritize 9-1-1 calls and optimize resource allocation. MPDS is a computer-based EMD system that uses callers' responses to scripted questions to categorize cases into groups and subgroups, based on complaint and perceived acuity.


This study evaluates the ability of MPDS codes to predict prehospital use of medications.


All transported prehospital patients assigned a subgroup by MPDS from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009 in a diverse urban community were matched with their prehospital electronic patient care records. The records of transported patients dispatched through EMD were queried for prehospital interventions and matched to their MPDS classifications. Only MPDS subgroups with 10 or more calls were included in the analysis.


A total of 38,005 patients met inclusion criteria. Patients with chest pain, breathing problems, heart problems, and diabetic problems received the most medications. Medications were administered in 19% of all calls. The individual MPDS subgroup with the highest rate of medication administration was 6E1A (breathing problems, 76%). Higher rates of Advanced Life Support (ALS) interventions in higher-acuity categories (e.g., Alpha, Bravo, Charlie) were seen in several EMD categories, including unconscious/fainting, breathing problems, and abdominal pain; but this was not observed in many other categories, including seizure, sick person, traumatic injury, and hemorrhage/lacerations.


Medications were administered in 19% of all calls. There were higher rates of ALS interventions in higher-acuity categories that were not observed in many other categories.

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