One of the things that has always concerned me about EMS is how we are not involved in the aftermath of treating our patients. That’s “aftermath” in both a good and a negative way. We don’t know, often, what happens to our patients after we take them to the hospital.
Follow-up Assessment for Athletes
Let’s say we have a young athlete involved in a football game or a lacrosse game and they received a concussion or what looks to be a concussion or some kind of brain injury. They are going to be taken to the hospital. We take them down there and drop them off and then we have no idea what happens.
With this new article I thought I’d point out to you that there’s a lot of things going on out there innovating the ways we can help these patients recover. Paramedics can help assess them and be part of the recovery process as well so they know when they’re able to return to normal activities. That’s important for these young athletes, because they want to get back on the playing field soon.
But how soon is too soon and how do they know when it’s too soon? This article points out a study that looked at how to assess patients who’ve been diagnosed with a concussion from a sports injury and how to reassess them and provide a follow-up assessment that says, “Yeah, you’re now okay to go back to your sports activity and participate in normal activity.”
Paramedics and Telehealth Assessment
That’s the important thing for these people it’s something that may not be adequately done in your community. There’s evidence that even a simple tele-health assessment will provide an effective follow up tool. That means you have a call with the nurse or physician over a phone line to do an assessment with someone else in the room and talk to the patient, interact with the parents and ask some key questions to find out if there’s anything that needs follow-up care or if the patient is indeed recovered from the event.
The study points out that this can be done accurately and effectively over a phone call. I wonder it this might be something that involves another healthcare professional being in the room and being able to answer some of the questions on assessment of, perhaps, pupil reaction or things like that. While this normally might be undertaken by a nurse this could also be a great opportunity for community paramedicine. An opportunity for paramedics to use assessment skills they already have to assist in managing patients that aren’t emergency patients but are patients that need to be assessed in some way or another.
Community Paramedicine Opportunity
We usually think about community paramedics interacting with elderly patients and with homebound patients but this could equally be achieved with young, otherwise healthy patients who are returning to work after an injury. Somebody out of the workplace, returning to work after an injury. Perhaps paramedics in areas that are not well served by home health nurses could work on this.
If they need additional care, we can then help them get the follow-up care they need more efficiently and ultimately help and get back to work or other activities even faster. Follow up on this this type of community-based medicine and community-based EMS. This will be more and more important as we move forward. I think last week we talked a little bit about the changes in healthcare reform affecting EMS and affecting what we do. We’re uniquely set up to provide that kind of community-based care for our patients.
Follow-up on the links for this news item and all the links for news and additional resources in the shownotes for this episode — Detergent Pod Poisoning and Episode 316.