The use of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is increasing. A number of patients call repeatedly for EMS. Early studies of frequent callers show that they form a heterogenous group.
There is a lack of research on frequent EMS callers. There is furthermore a lack of knowledge about characteristics and the prehospital assessment of the patients who call for EMS on several occasions. Finally, there is a general lack of knowledge with regard to the association between the prehospital assessment by health care providers and the final diagnosis.
Patients in Skaraborg in Western Sweden, who used the EMS at least four times in 2014, were included, excluding transport between hospitals. Information on the prehospital assessment on-scene and the final diagnosis was collected from the EMS and hospital case records.
In all, 339 individual patients who used the EMS on 1,855 occasions were included, accounting for five percent of all missions. Fifty percent were women. The age range was 10-98 years, but more than 50.0% were in the age range of 70-89 years.
The most common emergency signs and symptoms (ESS) codes on the scene were dyspnea, chest pain, and abdominal pain. The most common final diagnosis was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (eight percent).
Thirteen percent of all cases had a final diagnosis defined as a potentially life-threatening condition. Among these, 22.0% of prehospital assessments were retrospectively judged as potentially inappropriate.
Forty-nine percent had a defined final diagnosis not fulfilling the criteria for a potentially life-threatening condition. Among these cases, 30.0% of prehospital assessments were retrospectively judged as potentially inappropriate.
Among patients who used EMS on multiple occasions, the most common symptoms on-scene were dyspnea, chest pain, and abdominal pain. The most common final diagnosis was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In 13.0%, the final diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening condition was indicated. In a minority of these cases, the assessment on-scene was judged as potentially inappropriate.
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