An evaluation of nurse triage at the Emergency Medical Dispatch centers in two Swedish counties

Article written as a part of the Masters program in Public Health at Uppsala University, Fall 2016


Nurses working at the Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) centers in the Swedish counties of Uppsala and Västmanland routinely refer patients determined to not require an ambulance to non-emergency care. In this study, hospital records were reviewed to match calls to patients visiting an Emergency Department (ED) within 72 hours of being referred to non-emergency care by an EMD nurse. The prevalence of a number of outcomes was examined, and logistic regression models were used to analyze the effects of several variables of interest. 20% of callers referred to non-emergency medical care visited an ED within 72 hours. Of these, 57% received specialist level care, and 37% were admitted to the hospital. 86% of ED visits were found to be in regards to the condition the patient contacted the EMD for. Elderly patients were less likely to be referred to non-emergency care, but more likely to receive specialist care and be admitted. Very frequent callers were more likely to be referred to non-emergency care, while a moderate rate of contact was associated with increased odds of ED visitation and hospital admission from the ED. Non-utilization of the EMDs’ decision support tool was more common among callers referred to non-emergency care. Calls closed by dispatchers without further referral to other healthcare providers were less likely to result in an ED visit. The prevalence of ED visitations and admissions found in this study are similar to those found in other studies of Scandinavian pre-hospital triage, and a number of possibilities for quality improvement and future studies were identified.

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