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      EMS Stretcher “Misadventures” in a Large, Urban EMS System: A Descriptive Analysis of Contributing Factors and Resultant Injuries

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          Purpose. There is a paucity of data regarding EMS stretcher-operation-related injuries. This study describes and analyzes characteristics associated with undesirable stretcher operations, with or without resultant injury in a large, urban EMS agency. Methods. In the study agency, all stretcher-related “misadventures” are required to be documented, regardless of whether injury results. All stretcher-related reports between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010 were queried in retrospective analysis, avoiding Hawthorne effect in stretcher operations. Results. During the year studied, 129,110 patients were transported. 23 stretcher incidents were reported (0.16 per 1,000 transports). No patient injury occurred. Four EMS providers sustained minor injuries. Among contributing aspects, the most common involved operations surrounding the stretcher-ambulance safety latch, 14/23 (60.9%). From a personnel injury prevention perspective, there exists a significant relationship between combative patients and crew injury related to stretcher operation, Fisher's exact test 0.048. Conclusions. In this large, urban EMS system, the incidence of injury related to stretcher operations in the one-year study period is markedly low, with few personnel injuries and no patient injuries incurred. Safety for EMS personnel and patients could be advanced by educational initiatives that highlight specific events and conditions contributing to stretcher-related adverse events.

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          Most cited references 5

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          Ambulance stretcher adverse events.

          Ambulance personnel use wheeled stretchers for moving patients in the out-of-hospital setting. The nature of adverse events and associated injuries occurring during ambulance stretcher operation was characterised. Data from the United States Food and Drug Administration's Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience Database (MAUDE) were used. All adverse events involving ambulance stretchers during the years 1996-2005 were identified. The nature of the event, the method of stretcher handling, the individuals injured and the nature of the resulting injuries were identified. There were 671 reported adverse events. The most common adverse events were stretcher collapse (54%; 95% CI 50 to 57%), broken, missing or malfunctioning part (28%; 95% CI 25 to 32%) and dropped stretcher (7%; 95% CI 5 to 9%). Adverse events most commonly occurred during unloading of the stretcher from the ambulance (16%; 13 to 19%). Injuries occurred in 121 events (18%; 95% CI 15 to 21%), most often involving sprains/strains (29%), fractures (16%) and lacerations/avulsions (13%). There were three traumatic brain injuries and three deaths. Patients sustained injuries in 52 events (43%), and ambulance personnel sustained injuries in 64 events (53%). More than one individual sustained injuries in 12 events. Adverse events may occur during ambulance stretcher operation and can result in significant injury to patients and ambulance personnel.
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            Prediction of development of fatigue during a simulated ambulance work task from physical performance tests.

            The aims of this study were (1) to identify which physical performance tests could best explain the development of fatigue during a simulated ambulance work task, (2) to investigate the effect of height and weight and (3) to investigate in what respects these findings differ between female and male ambulance personnel. Forty-eight male and 17 female ambulance personnel completed a test battery assessing cardio-respiratory capacity, muscular strength and endurance, and co-ordination. The subjects also completed a simulated ambulance work task -- carrying a loaded stretcher. The work task was evaluated by development of fatigue. Univariate and multiple regression analyses were used to investigate to what extent the tests in the test battery were able to explain the variance of developed fatigue. The explained variance was higher for female than for male ambulance personnel (time > 70% of HRpeak: R2 = 0.75 vs 0.10, accumulated lactate: R2 = 0.62 vs 0.42, perceived exertion: R2 = 0.75 vs 0.10). Significant predictors in the models were VO2max, isometric back endurance, one-leg rising, isokinetic knee flexion and shoulder extension strength. Height, but not weight, could further explain the variance. The high physical strain during carrying the loaded stretcher implies the importance of investigating whether improved performance, matching the occupational demands, could decrease the development of fatigue during strenuous tasks.
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              Maximal manual stretcher carriage: performance and recovery of male and female ambulance workers.

              The effects of a maximal duration stretcher carriage on heart rate (HR), lactate concentration, hand steadiness and hand-grip strength were studied up to 72 h post-exercise in 17 male and 15 female military ambulance personnel. Using both hands for transport, the participants walked on a treadmill ergometer at a speed of 4.5 km/h. Force measurements at the handlebars yielded mean loads of 245 N (25 kg) on each side. Each step on the treadmill induced additional force oscillations with peak forces up to 470 N corresponding to 130% (women) and 98% (men) of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). In the males the maximal transport time was about twice the time in women (mean +/- SD: 184 +/- 51 s vs. 98 +/- 34 s). These differences had no significant effect on HR and lactate values. The same applies to hand steadiness, which showed only a transient deterioration immediately after exercise. In contrast to these parameters, substantial differences were seen in hand-grip strength recovery. Immediately after exercise, maximal hand-grip strength decreased by 150 N (25% MVC) in the males vs. 50 N (14%) in the females. Irrespective of gender, individuals with larger hand-grip strength and longer carriage durations (range 120 s-280 s) showed the slowest strength recoveries (up to 72 h) as compared to 1 h of recovery in participants with short transport durations (range 27 s-120 s). These findings suggest that the increasing number of eccentric strains during uninterrupted stretcher carriage induces cumulative muscle damages that may require some days for complete recovery.

                Author and article information

                Emerg Med Int
                Emerg Med Int
                Emergency Medicine International
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                23 April 2012
                : 2012
                1Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, Tulsa, OK, USA
                2College of Medicine, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Sophia Dyer

                Copyright © 2012 Jeffrey M. Goodloe et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Emergency medicine & Trauma


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