Emergency department interventions that could be conducted in subacute care settings for patients with nonemergent conditions transported by paramedics: a modified Delphi study Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background

    As the number of patients with nonemergent conditions who are transported by paramedics continues to increase in Ontario, redirecting specific patients to subacute settings may be more beneficial and suitable for both patients and emergency departments. We aimed to evaluate whether emergency department interventions conducted on patients with nonemergent conditions who are transported by paramedics could be conducted in subacute health centres.


    We conducted a RAND/UCLA modified Delphi study in Ontario between Oct. 13 and Dec. 19, 2020. We used purposive sampling to recruit practising emergency and primary care physicians for an expert panel. We abstracted interventions given to adult patients with nonemergent conditions (18 yr of age or older) who were transported by paramedics to an emergency department from the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) database (Jan. 1, 2014, to Mar. 31, 2018). Participants in the expert panel rated the suitability of the 150 most frequently recorded emergency department interventions from the NACRS database, for completion in subacute health care centres. We set consensus at 70% agreement.


    We invited 25 physician experts, 21 of whom consented to participate; 20 physicians completed round 1, and 18 physicians completed both rounds. After 2 rounds, consensus was reached on 146 (97.3%) interventions; 103 interventions (68.7%) were suitable for subacute centres, 43 (28.7%) for only the emergency department and 4 (2.6%) did not receive consensus. For subacute centres, all 103 interventions were rated for urgent care centres; walk-in medical centres were applicable for 46 (30.6%) interventions and clinics led by nurse practitioners for 47 (31.3%) interventions.


    Most interventions provided to patients with nonemergent conditions transported by paramedics to emergency departments were identified as suitable for urgent care clinics, with one-third being suitable for either walk-in medical centres or clinics led by nurse practitioners. This study has potential to inform a patient classification model for paramedic-initiated redirection of patients from emergency departments, although further contextualization is required for this to be implemented in clinical practice.

    Study registration

    ID ISRCTN22901977.

publication date

  • January 2022