Clinical presentations, physician consultations, and patient transport options for Australian remote and industrial paramedics.

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Abstract

Introduction
The aim of this study was to provide a snapshot of Australian remote and industrial paramedics’ patient clinical presentations, experience with physician consultations, and options for patient transport to tertiary care.

Method
This exploratory, cross sectional descriptive study employed a purpose-built online survey. Participants were 78 paramedics working in Australian rural and remote industrial settings recruited in 2015 using web-based, respondent-driven sampling. In addition to a series of closed ended questions, respondents were asked to recall the number of times they encountered specific clinical presentations during the past year. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and modes were calculated for ordinal data associated with clinical presentations.

Results
The traumatic presentations that participants recalled encountering at least ten times the preceding year included back pain (39.7%), minor lacerations (38.5%), joint (36.4%), and hand injuries (30.8%). Respondents selected headache (64.1%), nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea (52.6%), respiratory infections (50%), ear, nose, or throat problems (43.6%) and localised infections or rash (39.7%) as the most common medical presentations. There were 38.4% of respondents who managed patients with mental health presentations a minimum of six times in the preceding year and 45.3% who treated at least one patient in cardiac arrest. While 94.8% of participants said topside support was available, over half described consulting physicians infrequently and if they did, it was typically by telephone. Most respondents (61%) indicated that their worksite was located over 100km from a hospital.

Conclusion
Survey findings indicate that paramedic participants recall encountering a wide range of clinical presentations and managing low acuity illnesses more commonly than traumatic injuries. Most respondents were located at least 100km from the nearest hospital and although almost all had access to topside support, over half stated they consulted physicians infrequently.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1011
JournalAustralasian Journal of Paramedicine
Volume19
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Apr 2022

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