Use of checklists improves the quality and safety of prehospital emergency care

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Abstract

Objectives

High-level emergency medical care requires transfer of evidence-based knowledge into practice. Our study is the first to investigate the feasibility of checklists in improving prehospital emergency care.

Materials and methods

Three checklists based on standard operating procedures were introduced: General principles of prehospital care, acute coronary syndrome and acute asthma/acutely exacerbated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Subsequent to prehospital care and immediately before transport, information on medical history, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures was obtained. Data of 740 emergency missions were recorded prospectively before (control group) and after implementation of checklists and compared using the χ2-test (significance level P<0.05).

Results

Documentation on patients’ history (pre-existing diseases: 69.1 vs. 74.3%; medication: 55.8 vs. 68.0%; allergies: 6.2 vs. 27.7%) and diagnostic measures (oxygen saturation: 93.2 vs. 98.1%; auscultation: 11.1 vs. 19.9%) as well as basic treatment procedures (application of oxygen: 73.2 vs. 85.3%; intravenous access: 84.6 vs. 92.2%) increased significantly. Subanalysis of acute coronary syndrome cases showed a significant increase of 12-lead ECG use (74.3 vs. 92.4%), administration of oxygen (84.2 vs. 98.6%), ASA (71.7 vs. 81.9%), heparin (71.1 vs. 84.0%), β blockers (39.5 vs. 57.1%) and morphine (26.8 vs. 44.6%). In the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease subgroup, oxygen supply (78.8 vs. 98.5%) and application of inhalative and intravenous β2-mimetics (42.4 vs. 66.7% and 12.1 vs. 37.9%) increased significantly.

Conclusion

Introduction of checklists for prehospital emergency care may help to improve adherence to treatment guidelines. Additional efforts (e.g. team trainings) have to be made to increase quality of care.

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