Aim To identify and appraise evidence relating to the features of an Emergency Medicine System call interaction that enable, or inhibit, an Emergency Medical Dispatcher’s recognition that a patient is in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, or at imminent risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Methods All study designs were eligible for inclusion. Data sources included Medline, BNI, CINAHL, EMBASE, PubMed, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, AMED and OpenGrey. Stakeholder resources were screened and experts in resuscitation were asked to review the studies identified. Studies were appraised using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Synthesis was completed using a segregated mixed research synthesis approach.
Results Twenty-five studies were included in the review. ‘Recognition studies’ involving patients already in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest dominated this SMSR and challenges associated with recognition of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest were apparent. Four main themes were identified: Recognising abnormal/agonal breathing during the emergency call, Managing the emergency call, Emotional distress, Patient’s colour.
Conclusion A dominant finding is the difficulty in recognising abnormal/agonal breathing during the Emergency Medical Service call. The interaction between the caller and the Emergency Medical Dispatcher is critical in the recognition of patients who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Emergency Medical Dispatchers adapt their approach to the Emergency Medical Service call, and regular training for Emergency Medical Dispatchers is recommended to optimise out-of-hospital cardiac arrest recognition. Further research is required with a focus on the Emergency Medical Service call interaction of patients who are alive at the time of the Emergency Medical Service call and who later deteriorate into OHCA.
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