Vital signs as part of the prehospital assessment of the pediatric patient: a survey of paramedics

Ann Emerg Med. 1990 Feb;19(2):173-8. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)81804-9.


Vital signs are an integral part of the field assessment of patients. A two-part study was undertaken to determine which vital signs are taken in the field assessment of pediatric patients and to determine whether the frequency of vital signs taken is influenced by base station contact, patient's severity of illness or injury, or paramedic demographic factors such as parenting and field experience. An initial pilot study of prehospital care records (run sheets) from two base hospitals in Los Angeles County revealed that there were significant differences between field vital sign assessment in pediatric and adult patients (P less than .0001). A retrospective review of 6,756 pediatric run sheets from Los Angeles County showed that the frequency of vital sign assessment varied with the age of the pediatric patient (P less than .05) (ie, the frequency of vital sign assessment increased correspondingly with the age of the patient). Base hospital contact occurred in 26% of the runs; when contact was made, vital signs were more likely to be taken in all age groups studied. Vital signs often were not assessed in children less than 2 years old, even if the patient's chief complaint suggested the possibility of a major illness or trauma. The second part of the study was a field assessment survey that was distributed to 1,253 active paramedics in Los Angeles County; the results showed that paramedics were less confident in their ability to assess vital signs in children less than 2 years old. Confidence increased with age of the patient.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Temperature
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / education
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inservice Training
  • Los Angeles
  • Pilot Projects
  • Retrospective Studies