Introduction: This study evaluates whether a continuing education program for paramedics, focusing on Children with Special Health Care Needs, improved paramedics' assessment and management.
Methods: Emergency Medical Services responses for children, 21 years of age or younger, with a congenital or acquired condition or a chronic physical or mental illness, were identified. The responses before and after the specialized education program were reviewed by a multidisciplinary team to evaluate assessment and management of the children. Interreviewer agreement between the nurses on the team and between the physicians on the team was assessed. We also evaluated whether there was an improvement in assessment and care by paramedics completing our education program.
Results: Significant improvement was seen in appropriate assessment and overall care by paramedics who completed our specialized education program. Reviewers also noted an appropriate rating for the initial assessment category more often for responses involving paramedics who had the training. Agreement on whether assessment and treatment was appropriate for all five reviewers varied considerably, ranging from 32% to 93%. Overall there was a high percentage of agreement (>70%) between the nurses and between the physicians on most items. However, kappa statistics did not generally reflect good agreement except for most of the focused assessment items and some treatment and procedure items.
Conclusion: Most of the documentation on the EMS records indicated appropriate assessment and treatment during all responses for Children with Special Health Care Needs. Nevertheless, the results indicate that paramedics may improve their assessment and management of these children after specialized continuing education.