Background Data on the safety of non-transport decisions for paediatric patients attended by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are lacking. We describe the characteristics and outcomes of paediatric non-transported patients in Victoria, Australia.
Methods A retrospective data linkage study of consecutive paediatric (aged <18 years) non-transported patients between January 2015 and June 2019. Patients were linked to ED, hospital admission and death records. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to determine factors associated with EMS recontact, ED presentation, hospital admission and an adverse event (death/cardiac arrest, intensive care unit admission or highest ED triage category) within 48 hours of the initial emergency call.
Results In total, 62 975 non-transported patients were included. The mean age was 7.1 (SD 6.0) years and 48.9% were male. Overall, 2.2% recontacted the EMS within 48 hours, 13.7% self-presented to a public ED, 2.4% were admitted to hospital and 0.1% had an adverse event, including two deaths. Among patients with paramedic-initiated non-transport (excluding transport refusals and transport via other means), 5.6% presented to a public ED, 1.1% were admitted to hospital and 0.05% had an adverse event. In the overall population, an abnormal vital sign on initial assessment increased the odds of hospital admission and an adverse event. Among paramedic-initiated non-transports, cases occurring in the early hours of the morning (04:00–08:00 hours) were associated with increased odds of subsequent hospital admission, while the odds of ED presentation and hospital admission also increased with increasing prior exposure to non-transported cases.
Conclusion Adverse events were rare among paramedic-initiated non-transport cases. Vital sign derangements and attendance by paramedics with higher prior exposure to non-transports were associated with poorer outcomes and may be used to improve safety.
- emergency ambulance systems
- pediatric emergency medicine
- pre-hospital care
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request.
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Handling editor Caroline Leech
Contributors EN and KS conceived the study. EN and SC collected the data. EN conducted the literature search, statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. All authors reviewed the manuscript and made critical revisions for intellectual property. EN acts as guarantor of the work.
Competing interests EN is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship (#2003449). ZN is supported by a Future Leader Fellowship (#105690) from the National Heart Foundation of Australia. All other authors report no conflicts of interest.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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