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Paramedic Recognition of Sepsis in the Prehospital Setting: A Prospective Observational Study

NS-RG-Paramedic Recognition of Sepsis

Nova Scotia (ED)

Background: Patients with sepsis benefit from early diagnosis and treatment. Accurate paramedic recognition of sepsis is important to initiate care promptly for patients who arrive by Emergency Medical Services. 

Methods: Prospective observational study of adult patients (age >= 16 years) transported by paramedics to the emergency department (ED) of a Canadian tertiary hospital. Paramedic identification of sepsis was assessed using a novel prehospital sepsis screening tool developed by the study team and compared to blind, independent documentation of ED diagnoses by attending emergency physicians (EPs). Specificity, sensitivity, accuracy, positive and negative predictive value, and likelihood ratios were calculated with 95% confidence intervals. 

Results: Overall, 629 patients were included in the analysis. Sepsis was identified by paramedics in 170 (27.0%) patients and by EPs in 71 (11.3%) patients. Sensitivity of paramedic sepsis identification compared to EP diagnosis was 73.2% (95% CI 61.4-83.0), while specificity was 78.8% (95% CI 75.2-82.2). The accuracy of paramedic identification of sepsis was 78.2% (492/629, 52 true positive, 440 true negative). Positive and negative predictive values were 30.6% (95% CI 23.8-38.1) and 95.9% (95% CI 93.6-97.5), respectively. 

Conclusion: Using a novel prehospital sepsis screening tool, paramedic recognition of sepsis had greater specificity than sensitivity with reasonable accuracy.

Authors: Robert S. Green, Andrew H. Travers, Edward Cain, Samuel G. Campbell, Jan L. Jensen, David A. Petrie, Mete Erdogan, Gredi Patrick, and Ward Patrick 

Robert S. Green -

Preliminary data gathering/ baseline

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