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Carlson, J.N., Karns, C., Mann, N.C., E Jacobson, K., Dai, M., Colleran, C. and Wang, H.E. (2015) Procedures Performed by Emergency Medical Services in the United States. Prehospital Emergency Care. August 13th. .


Emergency medical services (EMS) must provide a wide range of care for patients in the out-of-hospital setting. Although previous work has detailed that EMS providers rarely perform certain procedures, (e.g., endotracheal intubation) there are limited data detailing the frequency of procedures across the breadth of EMS providers’ scope of practice. We sought to characterize procedures performed by EMS in the United States. We conducted an analysis of the 2011 National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) research data set, encompassing EMS emergency response data from 40 states and two territories. From these data, we report the number and incidence of EMS procedures. We also characterize procedures performed. There were 14,371,941 submitted EMS responses, of which 7,680,559 had complete information on procedures performed on adults. Of these, 4,206,360 EMS responses had procedures performed totaling 11,407,396 procedures. The most common procedures performed were peripheral venous access (28.4%), cardiac monitoring (16.1%) pulse oximetry (13.5%), and blood glucose analysis (10.4%). Procedures were performed most often in patients with traumatic injury (20.0%) followed by chest pain/discomfort (14.0%). Critical procedures (cardioversion, defibrillation, endotracheal intubation, etc.) were infrequently performed (n = 277,785, 2.4%). These data highlight the frequency with which EMS providers perform procedures across the United States. This may help to guide future EMS training and education efforts by highlighting the relative frequency and infrequency of specific procedures.

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