AbstractsMedical & Health Science

Hypoglycaemic emergencies attended by the Scottish Ambulance Service: a multiple methods investigation.

by David Fitzpatrick

Institution: University of Stirling
Year: 2015
Keywords: Ambulance; Prehospital; Hypoglycaemia; Diabetes; See and Treat; Treat and Refer; Non-conveyance; Paramedic; Multiple methods; Ambulance service Great Britain; Emergency medical technicians; Emergency medical services Great Britain; Hypoglycemia
Record ID: 1392550
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/21854


Background Changing service demands require United Kingdom ambulance services to redefine their role and response strategies, in order to reduce unnecessary Emergency Department attendances. Treat and Refer guidelines have been developed with this aim in mind. However, these guidelines have been developed in the absence of reliable evidence or guiding mid-range theory. This has resulted in inconsistencies in clinical practice. One condition frequently included in Treat and Refer guidelines is hypoglycaemia. Therefore this thesis aimed to investigate prehospital hypoglycaemic emergencies in order to develop an evidence base for future interventions and guideline development. Research approach A pragmatic and inductive applied health services research approach was employed. Multiple methods were used in a sequential explanatory design. Three linked studies were undertaken with the results of previous studies informing the development of the next. Study one: A scoping review of prehospital treatment of hypoglycaemic events. Aims: i) To describe the demographics of the patient population requiring ambulance service assistance for hypoglycaemic emergencies; ii) To determine the extent to which post-hypoglycaemic patients with diabetes, who are prescribed oral hypoglycaemic agents (OHA), experience repeat hypoglycaemic events (RHE) after being treated in the prehospital environment. Methods: A scoping literature review was conducted using an overlapping retrieval strategy that included both published and unpublished literature. Findings: Twenty-three papers and other relevant material were included. Hypoglycaemia related ambulance calls account for 1.3% to 5.2% of ambulance calls internationally. Transportation rates varied between studies (25%-73%). Repeat hypoglycaemic emergencies are experienced by 2-7% of patients within 48 hours. There was insufficient detail to determine any relationship between repeat events and OHA. The low quality of included papers means that the results should be cautiously interpreted. The safety of leaving patients on OHA at home post hypoglycaemic emergency is unknown. Consequently patients taking OHAs who experience a hypoglycaemic emergency should be transported to hospital for observation. There was a lack of knowledge about the Scottish demographics of the patient population. Study two: A retrospective cross-sectional observational study of diabetes related emergency calls. Aims: To investigate i) the patient demographics and characteristics of hypoglycaemia related emergency calls; ii) the incidence of repeat hypoglycaemic events; and iii) the factors associated with emergency calls that result in individuals being left at home. Methods: A retrospective observational cross-sectional study conducted using Medical Priority Dispatch System® call data from West of Scotland Ambulance Control Centre over a 12 month period. Data were extracted on age, gender, dispatch code, time of call, deprivation category, and immediate outcome (home or hospital). Multiple…