Aim Dyspnoea is frequent symptom among patients in ambulances after calling the emergency number, and mortality is high (1). However, knowledge regarding patient experience is sparse. As a first step in assessing subjective intensity of acute dyspnoea, we performed a pilot study in a prehospital setting.
Methods A one-month pilot study in the Thy-Mors region of the North Denmark region. Emergency ambulance patients with difficulties breathing were asked to use a verbal rating scale to assess their dyspnoea at; 1) first arrival at patient, 2) approximately halfway to hospital, and 3) arrival at hospital.
Results We included twenty-one patients, 76% were able to use the scale. Five were unable: two due to severe difficulties breathing i.e. an urgent acute situation, one due to difficulties understanding the scale, and two with no reason noted. Arrival at patient scores (median 8, confidence interval 6–8) were significantly higher than halfway scores (5, 3–6, p<0.001) and arrival at hospital scores (4, 3–5, p<0.001). The scores covered a wide range of the scale at each measurement, with values ranging from; 1) 4–10, 2) 0–8, and 3) 0–8.
Conclusion The pilot study showed that 76% were able to use the scale. Scores were distributed on a wide range of the scale at all three measurements, and a significant decrease in scores were registered over time. These results indicate that the use of a verbal rating scale is feasible for assessing subjective intensity of acute dyspnoea in the prehospital setting.
Christensen EF, Larsen TM, Jensen FB, Bendtsen MD, Hansen PA, Johnsen SP, et al. Diagnosis and mortality in prehospital emergency patients transported to hospital: a population-based and registry-based cohort study. BMJ Open. 2016;6(7):e011558.
Conflict of interest None declared.
Funding None declared.
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