"Mind the gap": An exploratory qualitative study of paramedics' experiences attending older adults who fall in Western Australia

Paige Watkins, Peter Buzzacott, Hideo Tohira, Judith Finn, Deon Brink, Rudi Brits, Anne-Marie Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

PURPOSE: To explore paramedics' experiences and perspectives about attending and managing older adults who had fallen.

PROCEDURES: This qualitative, exploratory study used a purposive sample of paramedics in Western Australia. Participants had at least one year of clinical experience. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken. Data were analysed via an inductive thematic approach.

FINDINGS: Fourteen paramedics were interviewed (Median age: 38 years, n = 5 females). The main theme identified that experiences were positive when attending patients with high-acuity medical problems or injuries following falls because binary decision-making (transport vs non-transport) was appropriate. Themes highlighted that decision-making for low-acuity falls attendances was a complex balance between 1) patient context, 2) risk management, 3) paramedic reactions, and 4) the lack of alternate referral pathways available. Experiences could be stressful and frustrating when attending falls call-outs for older adults with no injuries or medical problems. Participants concurred that when transport to hospital was not required there were no available, alternative pathways to refer onwards for appropriate health or social care.

CONCLUSION: Attending low-acuity call-outs for falls was often frustrating and required complex decision-making, with gaps in services identified. Further exploration of alternative referral pathways for health care for pre-hospital management of adults who fall is required.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralasian Emergency Care
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2024

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