Clinical practice of pre-hospital analgesia: An observational study of 20,978 missions in Switzerland

Greta Emilia Kiavialaitis, Stefan Müller, Julia Braun, Julian Rössler, Donat R Spahn, Philipp Stein, Alexander Kaserer
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2019 November 18

BACKGROUND: Pain is a frequent problem faced by emergency medical services (EMS) in pre-hospital settings. This large observational study aims to assess the prevalence of sufficiently provided analgesia and to analyze the efficacy of different analgesics. Moreover, we evaluated if quality of analgesia changed with an emergency physician on scene or depended on paramedics' gender.

METHODS: This is a retrospective analysis of all pre-hospital medical charts from adults and adolescents treated by the municipal EMS Schutz & Rettung Zürich over a period of 4 years from 2013 to 2016. Inclusion criteria were age ≥16 years, initial GCS > 13, NACA score ≥I and ≤V, an initial numeric rating scale (NRS) ≥ I and a documented NRS at hospital admission. 20,978 out of 142,484 missions fulfilled the inclusion criteria and therefore underwent further investigation. Descriptive, univariate and multivariate analyses were applied.

RESULTS: Initial NRS on scene was on average 5.2 ± 3.0. Mean NRS reduction after treatment was 2.2 ± 2.5 leading to a NRS at hospital admission of 3.0 ± 1.9. This resulted in sufficient analgesia for 77% of included patients. Among analgesics, the highest odds ratio for sufficient analgesia was observed for ketamine (OR 4.7, 95%CI 2.2-10.4, p < 0.001) followed by fentanyl (OR 1.4, 95%CI 1.1-1.7, p = 0.004). Female paramedics provided better analgesia (OR 1.2, 95%CI 1.1-1.2; p < 0.001). Patient's sex had no influence on analgesia. In patients with a NACA score > 2, the presence of an emergency physician on scene improved the quality of analgesia significantly.

CONCLUSIONS: Pre-hospital analgesia is mostly adequate, especially when done with ketamine or fentanyl. Female paramedics provided better analgesia and in selected patients, an emergency physician on scene improved quality of analgesia in critical patients.

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