Wednesday, October 23, 2019

PREHOSPITAL DIAGNOSTICS; THE EMERGENCY RESPONDERS’ “DIGITAL ANGEL”

By Dr. Robert Bard | Edited by: The RightWriters research staff | October 25, 2019

The saying “you can’t take it with you” is often applied to points of wisdom about letting go of your worldly possessions at the twilight of your years. In the case of emergency response, an ambulance rig is designed to simulate an ER on wheels, packing a range of life support equipment, devices and drugs for all critical rescue situations.  This includes essentials like breathing and airway clearing devices to scanning & monitoring equipment to dressing & bandaging materials.

Stories from many seasoned EMT or paramedics may include rare rescue situations that fall short of having more advanced resources and on-the-spot access to medical expertise that could have changed the course of the rescue when racing to the ER took too long.  Modern solutions to this dilemma include the expansion of field care through advanced Point-of-Care Ultrasound use and integration of TeleMedicine.  These innovations help rescuers immediately identify complex trauma including any possible ‘land mines’ through portable digital imaging technology while saving valuable time when it comes to file transfers of the patient’s condition electronically to the critical care professionals at the end of the ride.

PRE-HOSPITAL ULTRASOUND USE BY EUROPEAN RESPONDERS
Pre-hospital ultrasound has many clinical applications that may reduce morbidity and potentially improve outcomes for patients with life-threating conditions [3].  Worldwide, responders have adopted the use of a portable non-invasive, non-radiation ultrasound in their rescue rig.   For example, in Germany, the use of ultrasound in the field has focused on the FAST exam and cardiac sonography for non-traumatic patients since 2002–2003.  French prehospital clinicians have adopted ultrasound in certain areas as well, including SAMU (Service d'Aide Médicale d'Urgence). The Italian EMS system began incorporating ultrasound into prehospital care in 2005. [2]

Pre-hospital ultrasound is employed in this setting to differentiate reversible causes of pulseless electrical activity (PEA), assess for pericardial, intraperitoneal, and pleural fluid in trauma, and to differentiate between pulmonary edema and emphysema. In the USA, the focus on rapid transport and limiting on-scene time may have contributed to slower adoption of prehospital ultrasound into clinical algorithms. There is less experience in the routine use of ultrasound on ground ambulances. [2]


THE ERA OF TELEMEDICINE
By: Elizabeth Banchitta and Cheri Ambrose

With the combined use of remote portable ultrasound and telemedicine, the rescue unit raises the chances of the patient’s survival exponentially while significantly reducing the risks of complications during critical care. Telemedicine is the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance.  [4] Current communications technology and file-sharing allows medical doctors to consult EMTs and Paramedics to work with their patients remotely (through HIPAA compliant conferencing platforms) and software.  This revolutionary upgrade is true evidence of improving public health (and survivorship) and a significant cost reduction in medical care.

CONCEPTS REALIZED FOR A GLOBAL UPGRADE IN EMERGENT RESPONSE
On August of 1985, Mayor Ed Koch pushed a city policy to implement EMS medical control - a communications center where responders have advisory access to a medical doctor.  This originally was intended to eliminate unnecessary ambulance transports. This allowed the responder to determine and/or refuse medical attention on calls that were not actual life-threatening situation.  Koch’s idea was to keep ambulances available for the ‘real’ emergencies “and is not a free taxi service to the ER”. (NYT 7)

2019- Koch’s communications program is still technically in place, but its directives have been reshaped as TELEMED, TELEHEALTH or INTEL Communications- geared to be more about immediate access to doctors' medical guidance and data transmitting.  For the many incidences (such as heavy traffic) where time is truly of the essence, where a patient’s life is slipping away faster than the rig could cut through city streets, arming the responder with higher performance equipment and communication protocols with the ER docs has become the growing trend- or at least the sensible modern concept in motion.

Medical Control is a recorded line between the mobile unit and the hospital personnel awaiting the ‘delivery’. Thanks to TELEMED, they're there to help the responder interpret data collected and transmitted to them. Based on their findings, they may direct the rig to a specific hospital with the appropriate resources to best treat the patient. This also decreases the amount of time that will be spent on the patient running tests in the ER that could have been done during transport. For many cases, time is of the essence. TeleMed also helps responders administer certain tasks to keep patients stable from a life-or-death situation.  TeleMed also facilitates calls for a second opinion or orders allowing emergency personnel to administer additional doses of medication. There have been countless situations where ambulances are caught in terrible traffic or unforeseen road blocks that meant needing to act fast on a patient’s increasingly critical situation.  Having the doctor “present and available” (virtually) gives the responder real-time instructions on what to do.

For the sake of response time, New York City is probably one of the most densely populated areas with the highest number of hospitals and level 1 trauma centers.  But this is not the case for many areas in the country.  There are regions that experience up to an hour drive to the hospital making a patient's “golden hour” much more difficult to achieve. EMS refers to the golden hour as the time from when the incident happened to the time that the patient gets definitive care at the hospital. Getting the ball rolling by identifying exactly what is wrong with the patient during longer transport times can increase the possibilities of survival. This is where the need for additional life support technology is at its highest. 


A growing number of EMT’s in the country are allowed (and trained) to take glucose for unconscious or altered mental status patients. Some have CT Scans for possible strokes and CPAP for patients suffering from CHF or other respiratory failures. Resources like the use of EKG’s on patients that are experiencing chest pain or having heart attacks. Where proximity defines the standards, these devices and protocols may not apply for responders and units everywhere. Many of these devices are part of a “pilot program” and does not apply to all towns.  


The idea of a portable hi-powered PreHospital ultrasound that can identify traumas (including a transcranial Doppler to detect oxygen and blood flow in the brain) is something that the military and helivacs are equipped with now- and to integrate that with our com link to the doctor is such a vital game-changer as far as upgrades go!  To use that travel time to see what's going on so much earlier and transmit this data over to the doctor can be a powerful addition to the emergency response. Also, by having access to the doctor to interpret this data helps make crucial decisions such as ‘which hospital, precinct or resources would be best for handling this? Or do they need a trauma or a stroke center? Some places have certain staff members on call 24 seven whereas other hospitals do not. These are the additional directives that can change the overall direction of patient care.

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Point of care ultrasound for prehospital
applications. (Photo/Greg Friese)
Clinical applications for field ultrasound to assess, treat and monitor critically ill patients
Prehospital ultrasound is a form of medical imaging that is portable, non-invasive, painless, and does not expose the patient to ionizing radiation. With proper training and education, prehospital providers can use ultrasound to obtain immediate anatomical, diagnostic, and functional information on their patients.  In recent years, ultrasound devices have decreased in size and cost while producing images of enhanced quality.   For example, prehospital focused abdominal sonography for trauma (FAST) exams have the potential to provide valuable information in abdominal trauma with high reliability leading to more appropriate transport destination decisions. In addition, field ultrasound images can be transmitted enroute to the emergency department to facilitate further evaluation by ED physicians and trauma surgeons to expedite care ... READ MORE

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Next issue: TELEMED FOR COLLABORATION BETWEEN PROVIDERS


CONTRIBUTORS /EDITORIAL TEAM:

ROBERT L. BARD, MD, PC, DABR, FASLMS - Advanced Imaging & Diagnostic Specialist
Having paved the way for the study of various cancers both clinically and academically, Dr. Robert Bard co-founded the 9/11 CancerScan program to bring additional diagnostic support to all first responders from Ground Zero. His main practice in midtown, NYC (Bard Diagnostic Imaging- www.CancerScan.com) uses the latest in digital Imaging technology has been also used to help guide biopsies and in many cases, even replicate much of the same reports of a clinical invasive biopsy. Imaging solutions such as high-powered Sonograms, Spectral Doppler, sonofluoroscopy, 3D/4D Image Reconstruction and the Spectral Doppler are safe, noninvasive, and does not use ionizing radiation. It is used as a complement to find anomalies and help diagnose the causes of pain, swelling and infection in the body’s internal organs while allowing the diagnostician the ability to zoom and ‘travel’ deep into the body for maximum exploration.

ELIZABETH BANCHITTA, Technical Contributor / EMT
Elizabeth is a New York State certified EMT-B and a two-time recipient of the St. Catherine's of Siena Award for excellence of written and verbal communication to receiving hospitals. She is the current President of GiveKindness* Organization (a partner of Quinnipiac University, Hofstra University and Farmingdale State College) dedicated to implementing Annual Food Drives for Island Harvest Food Pantry and fundraising for Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is currently a graduating student (with honors) of Farmingdale State College with concentrations in Bioscience and Chemistry.  She is also a current volunteer in the NY Cancer Resource Alliance as a communications assistant to the president and an assistant publisher of the monthly newsletter and educational awareness quarterly magazine-The Journal of Modern Healing.

CHERI AMBROSE, Co-editor/outreach coordinator for NYCRA
Cheri is the associate editor for various publications such as PinkSmart News, the Journal for Modern Healing and First Responders Cancer News.  She is a patient advocate for many cancer-related programs and often contributes her time in cancer research fundraising events.  As the communications director for the NY Cancer Resource Alliance, she manages community outreach, partnership missions with other cancer foundations and research organizations and attends educational functions for cancer awareness. Her latest public projects include the launch of ImmunologyFirst.org and ImplantScan.org.  She stands as the current President of the male Breast Cancer Coalition (MaleBreastCancerCoalition.org).






References:
4) Jems.com: Point-of-Care Ultrasound in the Prehospital Setting as the patient is being transported to the nearest hospital. https://www.jems.com/2018/02/01/point-of-care-ultrasound-in-the-prehospital-setting/
 5) What’s the difference between telemedicine and telehealth? https://www.aafp.org/media-center/kits/telemedicine-and-telehealth.html
7) Ambulances, Under A New Policy, Pick Up Only Emergency Patients, NYT: 8/1985-


Also see: (Coming soon: Part 2) TELEMED FOR COLLABORATION BETWEEN PROVIDERS

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