Variation in air medical outcomes by crew composition: a two-year follow-up

Ann Emerg Med. 1995 Feb;25(2):187-92. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(95)70322-5.


Study objective: In a previous 1-year retrospective study, we found no differences in outcomes of patients transported by physician/nurse (P/N) and nurse/nurse (N/N) air medical crews. To confirm this finding and to identify any trends in outcome that might be associated with changes in crew composition, we prospectively collected and analyzed 2 additional years of severity and outcome data.

Design: Prospective cohort.

Setting: University hospital-based air medical program.

Results: Severity measured by APACHE-II, the Revised Trauma Score, and the Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System, and outcomes measured by mortality and the number of ICU and hospital days, were gathered prospectively on all adult air medical patients between July 1, 1990, and June 30, 1992. Patients less than 16 years old or those who were delivered to other hospitals were excluded. Patients were categorized as cardiac, acute trauma, and other. Origin of transfer and transfer times were included in the analysis. In all, 1,169 patients were studied--554 in the first year of the study, 615 in the second. In the first year, there were 185 P/N (33%) and 369 N/N (67%) flights. P/N patients were older (48.8 versus 44.5 years; P = .01) and were more likely to come from a scene (14% versus 5.7%; P = .001), but no differences were found with regard to sex or disease category. Mortality, the Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System, APACHE-II, number of ICU days, and number of hospital days were no different; nor were total flight times or times spent at the hospital or scene. In the second year, 89% of flights were N/N. Differences in age or origin were not observed. Severity levels and outcomes remained unchanged. Between 1987 and 1992, the proportion of cardiac patients decreased, and overall illness severity of transported patients increased.

Conclusion: Two years of detailed prospective measurement of air medical patient characteristics and outcomes confirmed the initial finding that no significant differences in clinical outcomes could be identified between patients managed by P/N versus N/N crews.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Ambulances*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Nurses
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Care Team / standards*
  • Physicians
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Transportation of Patients*
  • Trauma Severity Indices