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Knowledge of autonomic dysreflexia in the emergency department
  1. Caroline R Jackson,
  2. Rick Acland
  1. Burwood Spinal Unit, Christchurch, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Caroline R Jackson, 14 Fernie Road, Guisborough TS14 7LZ, UK; crjackson{at}


Objectives To determine the level of knowledge that medical staff in the emergency department and spinal unit have of autonomic dysreflexia, its causes, symptoms, treatment and complications; and to educate the participating staff about autonomic dysreflexia.

Method The study design was a prospective questionnaire, which was completed by 91 staff in the spinal unit and emergency department in Christchurch, who then undertook a teaching session on autonomic dysreflexia.

Results 29 of 70 staff in emergency department could not answer any questions. The average mark out of 29 was 2 for the emergency department and 12 for the spinal unit. Only 16 staff in the emergency department had had teaching on autonomic dysreflexia previously.

Conclusion Due to the potentially serious complications of autonomic dysreflexia, staff require teaching on autonomic dysreflexia accompanied by permanent reminders in the form of posters.

  • Spinal cord injury
  • autonomic dysreflexia
  • emergency department
  • education
  • clinical assessment
  • education
  • emergency care systems
  • emergency departments
  • neurology, spinal

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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