As usual, the EMS blogosphere has found itself in yet another little tiff. This time Timothy Clemans and Medic22 are in a bit of disagreement about proper use of ALS, among other things.
Timothy seems to believe that ALS skills are wasted on patients that are not in risk of losing life or limb. While Medic22′s way of responding to him might be over the top, I can TOTALLY understand how and why that would happen. See here and here. We all take this pretty damn seriously, so I understand the frustration.
Because I agree with Medic22′s thought process on this, I thought I would chime in a little bit.
If it was up to me I would eliminate prehospital ALS except in cases where ALS care prevents the need for hospital/clinic care and in cases where evidence demonstrates that ALS saves lives. That said, Medic 22 did bring up an excellent point about prehospital pain management.
Is it really that simple? Simply put, I’m out of a job. All of us are. In a system with 11,000 calls a year, we’d be able to pay one medic. Thats it. After the sob story of me being unemployed is over, we’ll address the real issue: why is it that you have to be dying to get compassionate, adequate, respectful care?
If you are sick or injured, but not dying, Timothy is saying that you should only get a taxi ride to the hospital(where you will wait in triage for an hour(or more) and then wait for a nurse to complete an assessment, then a doctor, then maybe get your treatment started).
Are there ALS skills that need to be reviewed? Absolutely, but until you have had to sit in a truck with patients puking their brains out(on your new, shiny boots) you will not understand the validity of our skills that are in between taxi driver and super hero. Pushing Zofran for that nausea not only helped to relieve the discomfort for that patient, it also helped prevent them from further dehydrating themselves (or like a patient a week ago… going into vfib every time she puked… Seriously).
Managing pain in patients is one of the best skill sets we offer(and either the most avoided due to paperwork or most abused by patients). Allowing grandma some comfort for the 15 mile ride through my Wintry Mid-Western city riddled with potholes and ice chunks is the least I can do after she allowed my whiny ass to stay alive all this time.
I can’t agree more with you! I have been battling this topic for 7 years to no avail. At one point we had our agency MD on board yet the other program MDs in the county voted against it! Again, “nobody ever died of pain” was just one reason. Another was/is the potential abuse issue, especially with fentanyl compounded by the fear ketamine could be stolen off the trucks by youngsters for their Rave parties. Subsequently, our patients receive a proper induction via etomidate but very infrequently the administration of diazepam and morphine post intubation (only a few of us religiously use the agents). What you end up with is a patient who doesn’t remember undergoing paralysis and intubation but wakes up being paralyzed and intubated on a bumpy ride to the hospital.
All this says is that local MDs have zero faith in their medics. If you can’t secure your narcotics, you have no business being in this business. There are dozens of ways to secure them. This is simply an excuse for someone who is afraid to allow their medics the ability to treat.
Medic 22 a dehydrated girl with a low BP and tachycardia needs a line and a fluid blous. That’s ALS. Not an emergency… but something that a paramedic can, and SHOULD do.
Me: what’s the benefit of the prehospital als in that case? if it doesn’t save a life or shorten hospital stay what’s the point
Medic 22: It’s GOOD PATIENT CARE. Its what competent, caring prehospital care providers do.
If the care by paramedics could prevent the need for hospital then I’m all for it. Unfortunately in the case wouldn’t you just be delaying hospital care and doing something just to do it?
First of all, you are assuming we are delaying care. Like I said before:
My scene time consists of a brief primary assessment, possibly a 12 lead and loading the patient where I begin the rest of my treatment–unless the patient absolutely needs other interventions prior to departure. That being said, when I am 15 minutes away from the hospital with someone puking(and further dehydrating themselves) or someone who has moderate wheezes, why shouldn’t I begin treating them?
Again…. It seems that you assume there is some abundance of Life or Limb calls in EMS. Honestly, those exciting calls just don’t come all that much. What we get a lot of is sick baby boomers, indigents, drunks, and people who don’t know any better. Does that mean we shouldn’t treat them while we can?
It is our job to treat patients, and as long as I have time in the back of my truck, I am going to do everything I can to make them more comfortable, happier, and healthier–if at all possible.