Challenges in prehospital emergency care patient, spouse and personnel perspectives

University dissertation from Örebro : Örebro universitetsbibliotek

Abstract: Prehospital emergency care (PEC) with the emergency call to the Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) centre is an essential part of the health-care system. It is important to obtain knowledge about the links in the PEC chain from the perspectives of those providing the service and those receiving it. The overall aim of this thesis was to describe the challenges surrounding PEC based on the experiences of patients, spouses and personnel. A qualitative descriptive design was used in the five papers included. The data analysis methods were phenomenological-hermeneutics (I–III), qualitative content analysis (IV–V) and descriptive statistics (V).Interviews with thirteen patients who had called the EMD-centre due to acute chest pain (I) revealed a general satisfaction with PEC. They were aware of the number to call in an emergency but were uncertain when to call. The potentially life threatening emergency situation was marked by vulnerability and dependency and was fraught with pain, fear and a sense of aloneness.An overall theme of aloneness emerged from the interviews with nineteen spouses who had placed an emergency call for their husband or wife that was experiencing acute chest pain (II). The challenges in being a spouse to a person in need of PEC were associated with: “Being responsible and trying to preserve life” and “Being able to manage the uneasiness and feel trust in an uncertain situation”. The spouses were in an escalating spiral of aloneness, worry, uncertainty, stress, fear of loss and desperation.Interviews with sixteen emergency operators dealt with situations they considered difficult to deal with and their reflections on how they managed such situations (III). Uncertainty, communication difficulties and insufficient resources characterized those situations. Skills, knowledge, experience, as well as personal qualities such as sensitivity, self-insight, empathy and intuition were regarded as important when handling them.Interviews with four nurses and fifteen emergency operators related to their experiences of working together for two years at an EMD-centre were conducted after the nurses were added to the EMD-centre to increase medical and nursing competence (IV). Initial frustration and scepticism changed to positive experiences with improved cooperation and service. The nurses voiced difficulties dealing with the more medically urgent calls and the emergency operators with the more complicated and diffuse medical cases.A total of 336 questionnaires related to alarms involving acute chest pain and given the highest priority by the emergency operator were collected in a study aimed at describing the ambulance personnel’s perceptions of the quality of the information received from the EMD-centre (V). The ambulance personnel perceived most of the information such as patient assessment, condition, history, preparedness and in particular pain status to be of high quality.In summary: In PEC there is many interdependent complexities that present demands and challenges to the actors involved (I–V). In general those who received emergency assistance from PEC were satisfied, but the margins between success and failure are small. Risks for errors exist throughout the PEC chain and time poses a challenge. Understanding is crucial for all involved, and the same situation can be experienced differently. Challenges inherent in PEC are the communication problems, unpredictability and uniqueness along with daring to be in the acute situation and dealing with a sense of aloneness, uncertainty and dependency. The personnel that do not have the ability to see the person they are helping are even more challenged. Important attributes for PEC personnel are caring attitudes, personal skills, experiences and professional knowledge. PEC personnel have the authority and power to act and make decisions, in which responsibility, sensitivity, and human dignity must be addressed. Lives are saved with PEC despite all the challenges and possibilities for error, such as those that exist between the different actors. It is vital that the PEC chain is as strong as possible.