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Towards definitions of time-sensitive conditions in prehospital care.

Journal article
Authors Kristoffer Wibring
Carl Magnusson
Christer Axelsson
Peter Lundgren
Johan Herlitz
Magnus Andersson Haigwara
Published in Scandinavian journal of trauma, resuscitation and emergency medicine
Volume 28
Issue 1
ISSN 1757-7241
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Language en
Subject categories Cardiovascular medicine


Prehospital care has changed in recent decades. Advanced assessments and decisions are made early in the care chain. Patient assessments form the basis of a decision relating to prehospital treatment and the level of care. This development imposes heavy demands on the ability of emergency medical service (EMS) clinicians properly to assess the patient. EMS clinicians have a number of assessment instruments and triage systems available to support their decisions. Many of these instruments are based on vital signs and can sometimes miss time-sensitive conditions. With this commentary, we would like to start a discussion to agree on definitions of temporal states in the prehospital setting and ways of recognising patients with time-sensitive conditions in the most optimal way.There are several articles discussing the identification and management of time-sensitive conditions. In these articles, neither definitions nor terminology have been uniform. There are a number of problems associated with the definition of time-sensitive conditions. For example, intoxication can be minor but also life threatening, depending on the type of poison and dose. Similarly, diseases like stroke and myocardial infarction can differ markedly in terms of severity and the risk of life-threatening complications. Another problem is how to support EMS clinicians in the early recognition of these conditions. It is well known that many of them can present without a deviation from normal in vital signs. It will most probably be impossible to introduce specific decision support tools for every individual time-sensitive condition. However, there may be information in the type and intensity of the symptoms patients present. In future, biochemical markers and machine learning support tools may help to identify patients with time-sensitive conditions and predict mortality at an earlier stage.It may be of great value for prehospital clinicians to be able to describe time-sensitive conditions. Today, neither definitions nor terminology are uniform. Our hope is that this commentary will initiate a discussion on the issue aiming at definitions of time-sensitive conditions in prehospital care and how they should be recognised in the most optimal fashion.

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