From the pre-hospital literature: Diagnosing death on the line

Christopher, Sarah (2008) From the pre-hospital literature: Diagnosing death on the line. Emergency Medicine Journal, 25 (9). p. 606. ISSN 1472-0205

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Item Type:Review
Item Status:Live Archive


This retrospective study aimed to ascertain the accuracy with which the medical priority dispatch system (MPDS) identifies cases of cardiac arrest. Ambulance dispatch records of all cases suspected as cardiac arrest over a 3-month period were matched with ambulance patient records and those from the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry to determine the number of correctly identified cardiac arrests. Although 76.7% of cardiac arrests were correctly identified, it was found that 172 of these were allocated a non-priority MPDS code so were allocated fewer resources than necessary. Additionally, of those cases identified as potential cardiac arrests, only 58.2% turned out to be so. This resulted in 41.8% of these calls being allocated unnecessary resources. This is an important finding as it is not only cardiac arrests that are life-threatening. The results therefore show that valuable resources may be wrongly directed to such calls when they might be better employed elsewhere. This can be illustrated by considering that the Lincolnshire Division of East Midlands Ambulance Service routinely allocates two vehicles to calls identified as cardiac arrest. This study highlights the fact that further research would be of value in this area in order to improve the sensitivity of the MPDS system.

S Christopher, College of Paramedics Research and Audit Committee
▸ Flynn J, Archer F, Morgan A. Sensitivity and specificity of the medical priority dispatch system in detecting cardiac arrest calls in Melbourne. Prehosp Disast Med 2006;21:72–6.

Keywords:Emergency care, Death
Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B990 Subjects Allied to Medicine not elsewhere classified
L Social studies > L510 Health & Welfare
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:28909
Deposited On:05 Oct 2017 09:17

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