Background: Knowledge of the population using prehospital emergency services is scarce except for selected subgroups. Interventions are often made without evaluation. The aim of this study was (1) to describe mortality, hospitalization and the diagnostic pattern among emergency ambulance users and (2) to evaluate the impact of one mobile emergency care unit (MECU) staffed by an anesthesiologist.
Design and methods: A descriptive and quasi-experimental study of consecutive emergency ambulance users during two 3-month periods: before the MECU (Period 1) and after (Period 2). Hospitalization, diagnostic and 0-180-day mortality data were requested from national registers. Diagnoses were according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
Results: Periods 1 and 2 included 2950 and 2869 users, respectively. The MECU attended 27.7% in Period 2. Fewer users were brought to hospital in Period 2 (87.9% vs. 93.8%, P < 0.0001), especially MECU users (76.5% MECU users vs. 92.3% other users; P < 0.001). Diagnoses included all main ICD-groups. Overall mortality of all users was 10.2%; no difference between the periods. Cardiovascular and respiratory diseases were among the most frequent and were associated with high mortality. In Period 2 mortality was lower in subgroups: acute myocardial infarction (AMI; n = 177, day 0-180, 13.3% vs. 40.5%, P < 0.001); and respiratory diseases, only short-term mortality (n = 388, day 0-1 mortality, 0.0% vs. 2.4%, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: The diagnostic pattern among emergency ambulance users included all main groups of diseases. After the MECU fewer were brought to hospital. The overall mortality for all ambulance users was not influenced by the MECU. For the subgroups, especially AMI, mortality was lower after the introduction of the MECU.
Copyright Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica 47 (2003)