Guidelines for Handling Medical Flight Patients who Have Fainted (Part I)

Until now, ground ambulance and medical flight paramedics alike did not have a specific guideline to follow when treating patients with syncope. Syncope, otherwise known as fainting, happens when there’s a lack of blood supply and the blood pressure drops to deprive the brain of oxygen. And now the American College of Cardiology has released a guideline to help you understand the best course of action to take when encountering such patients.

What to do When You Encounter a Medical Flight Patient with Syncope

When you respond to a situation in which a patient has fainted, here’s what you need to do:

  1. It’s crucial that your initial evaluation includes a detailed physical examination and medical history. This will help you identify whether there are any possible underlying conditions that could result in the fainting.
  2. Fainting usually occurs while standing when there’s a drop in blood pressure, as this reduces oxygen supply to the brain. In most cases, the condition may not be life-threatening. So you should do your best to try and ease the worries of your patients.
  3. If your medical flight carries a portable ECG, it’s best that you use it during your evaluation. This will help you determine if there’s any abnormality that requires treatment.
  4. During your evaluation, if you find out that the patient has a serious medical condition that possibly caused the fainting, it’s crucial that they are transported to a hospital immediately. This holds true even if the patient seems to be recovering fine from the fainting.
  5. You can rule out the need for unnecessary evaluations such as routine lab testing and routine cardiac imaging such as CT scan or MRI unless you suspect the patient has a cardiac issue. There’s also no need for carotid artery or head imaging unless you need to perform a further evaluation.

These are some of the important guidelines to follow when encountering patients with syncope. Watch out for the next post to find out more.

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