GP-based emergency response in rural areas: is there a need?

Aust J Rural Health. 1999 May;7(2):104-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1584.1999.00229.x.


Rural general practitioners (GPs) traditionally provide the initial care for the very ill and severely traumatised in small and medium-sized rural hospitals. It has been said that these patients would be better managed in a level 1 trauma centre. The present paper will test this hypothesis and shows that the benefits of the expertise available in the large centres may be outweighed by the loss of life in the prehospital phase, most of which occurs before the arrival of the ambulance. General practitioner involvement would enhance the current early retrieval system. Very ill and severe trauma should be assessed and stabilised in the most appropriate local facility. Routine bypassing of local emergency medical services should be avoided. A national standard for training rural GPs in emergency management skills is needed. Emergency facilities and equipment must be maintained and improved throughout rural Australia. These facilities and their staff must be accredited so that the ambulance service can more appropriately determine its transport priorities.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Family Practice*
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Trauma Centers*
  • Victoria
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy