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Patient and case characteristics associated with ‘no paramedic treatment’ for low-acuity cases referred for emergency ambulance dispatch following a secondary telephone triage: a retrospective cohort study

ABSTRACT

Predicting case types that are unlikely to be treated by paramedics can aid in managing demand for emergency ambulances by identifying cases suitable for alternative management pathways. The aim of this study was to identify the patient characteristics and triage outcomes associated with ‘no paramedic treatment’ for cases referred for emergency ambulance dispatch following secondary telephone triage.A retrospective cohort analysis was conducted of cases referred for emergency ambulance dispatch following secondary telephone triage between September 2009 and June 2012. Multivariable logistic regression modelling was used to identify explanatory variables associated with ‘no paramedic treatment’.There were 19,041 cases eligible for inclusion in this study over almost three years, of which 8510 (44.7%) were not treated after being sent an emergency ambulance following secondary triage. Age, time of day, pain, triage guideline group, and comorbidities were associated with ‘no paramedic treatment’. In particular, cases 0–4 years of age or those with psychiatric conditions were significantly less likely to be treated by paramedics, and increasing pain resulted in higher rates of paramedic treatment.This study highlights that case characteristics can be used to identify particular case types that may benefit from care pathways other than emergency ambulance dispatch. This process is also useful to identify gaps in the alternative care pathways currently available. These findings offer the opportunity to optimise secondary telephone triage services to support their strategic purpose of minimising unnecessary emergency ambulance demand and to match the right case with the right care pathway.