A qualitative exploration of ambulance clinician behaviour and decision making to identify factors influencing on-scene times for suspected stroke patients in North East England

Abi Alton, Lisa Shaw, Tracy Finch, Christopher Price, Graham McClelland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Aims/objectives: Ambulance clinician assessment of suspected stroke patients aims to provide rapid access to specialist care, however regional and national data show increasing pre-hospital times. This study explored paramedic views about factors contributing to on-scene time (OST) for suspected stroke patients, with a view to identifying opportunities for future interventions, to reduce OST.

Methods: Views of paramedics from one regional service on factors influencing OST were explored using a qualitative approach. Semi-structured interviews with volunteers were recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Interviews were conducted with 13 paramedics between August and November 2021. Five interlinked themes were identified and described a range of factors influencing OST:

‘Initial assessment and sources of information’ describes how clinicians make assessments based on initial presentation, influenced by pre-arrival information from ambulance control and family members / bystanders at the scene, and how this influences OST.

‘Suitability for treatment and interventions’ describes how paramedics consider actions such as the face, arms, speech test, cannulation, electrocardiograms and neurological assessments while recognising that pre-hospital interventions for suspected stroke are limited.

‘The environment’ describes the influence of incident setting on OST, including the overall process needed to transport the patient to appropriate care.

‘Hospital interactions’ describes how interactions with hospital staff influenced paramedic actions and OST.

‘Changing practice’ describes the influence of experience and interaction with hospital staff leading to changes in paramedic practice over time.

Conclusion: This study provides insight into how UK paramedics spend time on scene with stroke patients. Multiple factors influencing OST were identified which signpost opportunities for interventions designed to reduce OST. Standardising on-scene assessments for stroke patients, refining communication processes between ambulance services and hospital stroke services and increasing availability of stroke continuing professional development for paramedics were all identified as potential targets for improving OST.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Paramedic Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

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