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Prediction of a time-sensitive condition among patients with dizziness assessed by the emergency medical services.

BACKGROUND: Dizziness is a relatively common symptom among patients who call for the emergency medical services (EMS).

AIM: To identify factors of importance for the early identification of a time-sensitive condition behind the symptom of dizziness among patients assessed by the EMS.

METHODS: All patients assessed by the EMS and triaged using Rapid Emergency Triage and Treatment (RETTS) for adults code 11 (=dizziness) in the 660,000 inhabitants in the Municipality of Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2016, were considered for inclusion. The patients were divided into two groups according to the final diagnosis (a time-sensitive condition, yes or no).

RESULTS: There were 1536 patients who fulfilled the inclusion criteria, of which 96 (6.2%) had a time-sensitive condition. The majority of these had a stroke/transitory ischaemic attack (TIA). Eight predictors of a time-sensitive condition were identified. Three were associated with a reduced risk: 1) the dizziness was of a rotatory type, 2) the dizziness had a sudden onset and 3) increasing body temperature. Five were associated with an increased risk: 1) sudden onset of headache, 2) a history of head trauma, 3) symptoms of nausea or vomiting, 4) on treatment with anticoagulants and 5) increasing systolic blood pressure.

CONCLUSION: Among 1536 patients who were triaged by the EMS for dizziness, 6.2% had a time-sensitive condition. On the arrival of the EMS, eight factors were associated with the risk of having a time-sensitive condition. All these factors were linked to the type of symptoms or to clinical findings on the arrival of the EMS or to the recent clinical history.

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