Effects of Prehospital Care on Outcome in Patients With Cardiac Illness
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STUDY OBJECTIVE: To compare outcomes of patients with acute cardiac illness transported by ambulance for whom prehospital care was provided by emergency medical technician-paramedics (EMT-Ps) or EMTs trained in defibrillation (EMT-Ds). DESIGN: A prospective chart review carried out over 3.5 years. SETTING: The Hamilton-Wentworth region of Ontario, Canada, which covers 1,136 km2 and includes five receiving hospitals. PARTICIPANTS: We prospectively identified 8,720 potentially eligible patients from approximately 30,000 who presented to the ambulance service. We reviewed hospital charts to confirm eligibility. The group of 8,720 patients yielded 3,066 patients with acute cardiac illness who met all other eligibility requirements. We excluded patients in cardiac arrest. RESULTS: Incidence of myocardial infarction (MI), length of hospital stay, and mortality were evaluated. Analysis was performed with chi 2 tests for association, linear regression, and logistic regression. Of the eligible patients who received prehospital EMS care, 783 sustained MIs. The proportions of people discharged alive with the diagnosis of MI did not differ between crew types (P = .16). Average hospital stay was 13 days in both groups for patients with the discharge diagnosis of MI; hospital stay ranged from 9 (EMT-D) to 11 days (EMT-P) for any patient with a discharge diagnosis other than MI. These values were statistically similar. The odds ratio of having had an MI after treatment by an EMT-D crew was 1.02 (95% confidence interval, .86 to 1.21) compared with that for treatment by an EMT-P crew. CONCLUSIONS: In an urban setting with short (less than 10 minutes) average transport times, the availability of prehospital paramedic care does not affect occurrence of MI, length of hospital stay, or mortality of patients presenting to the EMS system with cardiac illness.
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