The acute derangement of physiological function is a time-critical medical emergency requiring prompt recognition. As autonomous practitioners in resource scarce, high-risk environments, clinical deterioration can impose complex and increased clinical demands on paramedics. Early recognition is imperative to facilitating proactive responses to mitigate adverse effects. This study aimed to determine if clinicians can meet consensus regarding meaningful clinical factors for recognising to out-of-hospital (OOH) clinical deterioration risk.
A three-round electronic Delphi study was conducted between June 2020 and January 2021. The expert panel was composed of 30 clinicians, including paramedics and emergency physicians. Participants were presented with eight clinically diverse case vignettes addressing various clinical factors related to OOH clinical deterioration.
Participants identified various challenges related to the recognition of OOH clinical deterioration. Although participants were able to meet consensus on most clinical factors related to deterioration, consensus was not achieved where cases had a combination of factors including: medical aetiology, subtle vital sign changes, non-specific complaints, age-extreme patients, and presence of co-morbidities.
This study demonstrated that clinicians face various challenges to recognising clinical deterioration in the OOH setting. Better understanding these challenging patient cohorts could assist to increase awareness and improve early recognition of OOH clinical deterioration.
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Published online: July 15, 2022
Accepted: July 3, 2022
Received in revised form: July 1, 2022
Received: June 2, 2022
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