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Use of prehospital emergency medical services according to income of residential area


Background The increasing usage of emergency medical services (EMS) missions is a challenge in modern practice. This study was designed to examine the association of the income level of residential areas on the rate of EMS missions and the frequency of EMS use in these areas.

Methods All EMS missions for adult patients (>18 years) encountered by one rescue department in Northern Finland between June 2015 and May 2017 were analysed. The area served was categorised into four categories, according to the median annual income of the postal code areas. EMS missions per 1000 person-years, rate of non-transport missions and the number of dispatches to frequent (>4 EMS calls/year and highly frequent (>10 calls/year)EMS users per area were investigated.

Results There were 62 759 EMS missions, 34.8% of which resulted in non-transport. The crude rate of EMS dispatches was higher in the low-income area compared with other income areas (133.3 vs 108.9 vs 111.3 vs 73.6/1000 person-years) as well as the rate of high-frequency user dispatches (21.5 vs 11.5 vs 7.2 vs 4.3/1000-person years). The rate of non-transports missions was higher also (69.4 vs 43.4 vs 42.5. vs 30.6/1000 person-years). The highest crude rate of EMS use was found in people older than 65 years living in the lowest income areas (294.8/1000 person-years). After age adjustment, the highest rate of EMS use was found in rural areas with the lowest income (146.3/1000 person-years).

Conclusions The rate of the EMS missions and non-transport missions differs significantly among different income areas. Resource usage was significantly higher in the low income areas. This information can be used in planning allocation of EMS and preventive healthcare resources.

  • pre-hospital care
  • basic ambulance care
  • emergency ambulance systems

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