Paramedics as allied health care providers in the pediatric emergency department

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine the frequency of use and scope of practice of paramedics in the pediatric emergency department (PED).

Design:

Thirty-eight question mailed survey.

Participants:

One hundred eighty directors of pediatric emergency medicine departments.

Main results:

One hundred twelve (62%) pediatric emergency medicine directors completed the survey of which 87 (74%) had a physically distinct PED. The PEDs saw an mean volume of 29,563 patients per year. Twenty-one percent of the PEDs surveyed had paramedics who were employed as allied health personnel. Paramedic responsibilities in the PEDs included patient transport, 89%; laboratory transport, 67%; IV access, 78%; medication administration, 22%; suturing, 11%; assisting, 94%; intubation, 6%; and narcotic administration, 11%. Paramedic mean starting salary was $9.55 (SD ± 1.90)/h) versus nurse mean starting salary of $15.03 (SD ± 3.58)/h (P< 0.001). PED directors who employed paramedics rated the success of their paramedic program as 7.9 (SD ± 1.7) on a scale from 1 (not at all successful) to 10 (very successful).

Conclusions:

Paramedics can function successfully as members of the PED patient care team. In a resource-scarce health care environment the use of paramedics may be a cost-effective adjunct to nursing support.

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