Among the hundreds of patients you care for every year, some of those patients may be elderly individuals with a medical emergency or injury. It would be a mistake to assume that these patients are just like any other patient, as there may be many age-related issues to consider when providing them with pre-hospital care. As a medical flight paramedic, you need to be equipped with the necessary information to care for and safely transport geriatric patients facing a medical emergency or injury.
Caring for and Transporting Elderly Patients in a Medical Flight
Take a look at some of these tips to help you care for and safely transport a geriatric patient:
- Consider age-related changes in bodily functions – As we grow older, the function of the different organs in our body declines. This means there’s a change in the way our body responses to illnesses and injuries. For instance, there is a much lower capacity to compensate for shock, the bones can break much more easily, and the skin can face a more extensive damage from lacerations and burns. Additionally, head injuries can be much more lethal for elderly patients. All of these and more means that even a simple injury or complaint could have a huge impact on geriatric patients.
- Consider medication-related complaints – Many elderly patients may miss their meds or even take them at a wrong dose. Before transporting them on a medical flight, make sure you double-check their medications. In addition to asking them about it, get the prescription bottles and take them with you to provide to the ER. You could even perform a pill count if the dosage is indicated. Make sure you also have sufficient information about the common side effects of certain medications and their interactions with other medications. For instance, a patient taking blood thinners and suffering from a physical injury could be in danger of internal bleeding.
In a previous post, we had discussed some tips to help in writing a detailed patient care report. To add to that, this post will provide you some tips and ideas on how you can avoid vagueness in writing your report. Being descriptive and detailed is crucial in a few major aspects of patient care reporting for medical flight paramedics. This post will guide you in nailing your report for these aspects.
Important Aspects of Patient Care Reporting for Medical Flight Paramedics
When you respond to a call and transport a patient, you need to avoid being vague when writing your report about the following aspects:
- Dispatch info – Cover all details of the dispatch including patients condition at the time of dispatch, whether it’s an internal or external dispatch, whether you’re the first responders or if there are other rescue units on the way, etc.
- Patient’s condition – It’s obvious that you’ll be reporting details like where you picked up the patient and where you transported them to. But in addition to this, you’ll need to have a detailed report about the patient’s condition such as their mobility and consciousness status, whether or not they were able to understand/respond to your queries, when and how their problem stated, how the symptoms have evolved, etc.
- Interventions and procedures – As a medical flight paramedic, you may need to perform some emergency procedures to help the patients you transport. Make sure you provide in detail which treatments, interventions, or procedures you performed on the patient during transportation. And don’t forget to include details about why those procedures were necessary, which assessments you made and what you found from the assessments.
These three main aspects are crucial for better patient care reporting and to avoid vagueness in your report. They will help the receiving medical facility to provide proper medical care to the patient.
When you’re beginning a career as a medical flight paramedic, one of your biggest responsibilities would be writing patient care reports. And your ability to write a good report will play a huge role in the quality of care provided to the patient. In this post, you’ll learn a few basic tips to help you improve the way you handle patient care reporting.
Writing a Detailed Description in Medical Flight Reporting
The most important element in good patient care reports is a detailed description of the incident and patient details. You’ll need to write a detailed report of your assessment of the situation. And you’ll need to note down all the details of how you treated the patient – whether you administered any kind of medication or any special treatment, etc.
As a medical flight paramedic, you would have received training on writing patient care reports. Here are a few tips to help you further improve your descriptions:
- If the patient is experiencing pain, make sure your description includes where exactly the pain is. For instance, if it’s on the leg, which leg and which part of the leg?
- Make sure you include the incident timeline.
- Make a note of your assessment of the pain.
- Include a step-by-step detail of what treatment you administered.
- Try avoiding the use of abbreviations if possible.
The Importance of Grammar and Spelling
It may be difficult to comprehend but spelling and grammar are crucial in patient care reporting. Misspellings and incorrect grammar usage could result in miscommunication. Try to ensure your report clearly states the details of the injury or illness. The idea is to write a report that will ensure the surgeon or doctor caring for the patient understands exactly what is going on.
After much consideration, you’ve decided to undergo education and training in order to become a medical flight paramedic. And you’d also know by now that you’ll be facing plenty of challenges along the way. Many of those challenges may be minor and you can easily overcome them. But some challenges may get in the way of your training and may even compel you to give up your dreams. So the best thing to do is to prepare yourself to face those challenges and get set to overcome them.
Challenges with Time Management
One of the biggest challenges you will face while training to become a medical flight paramedic is the challenge with time management. You’ll have to attend your classes regularly, which is going to take several hours of your time every day. You’ll also need to set aside some time to study on a daily basis if you’re going to pass your tests. On top of that, you’ll even have to go to clinical rotations, which will take place at various sites.
Now all this is difficult to manage already. It’s going to be even more difficult if you’re doing it all in the midst of a regular job. So it’s already clear that you’ll have to sacrifice your social life while you’re in paramedic school. And make sure you try to postpone big, life-changing decisions such as moving to a new city.
Other Big Challenges in Medical Flight Paramedic Training
In addition to the big time management issue, you might also struggle with drugs and pharmacology. By the time of your internship, you’ll be expected to have a thorough understanding of your medications. Come up with a technique to memorize and understand indications and doses as well as contraindications related to medicine.
If you’re running an air ambulance operation, there are several technologies and devices to promote efficiency in your operations and deliver a more seamless patient care. Some technologies can help you accurately record your patient info or quickly retrieve existing data about the patient. Other technologies may be able to help you manage inventory or your teams more efficiently. But with so many options, you may have some trouble finding the right EMS software that could help your medical flight teams and operations.
What if you end up investing in expensive software that your team doesn’t really need? In this post, you’re going to learn about some useful tips that could help you find the right EMS software that you and your team will actually benefit from.
Finding the Right EMS Software for Medical Flight Providers
Consider the following points before you decide to invest in EMS software for your operations:
- Necessary features – First of all, you need to consider what kind of features you actually need in your operations. For instance, you might be in dire need of a staff scheduling feature if you’re running a big operation with plenty of employees. Maybe your paramedics need a better tool for recording and retrieving patient records. Or you might need a feature that could help you better manage your inventory.
- Compatibility to available resources – Before investing in EMS software for your medical flight operation, you also need to ensure that the software can be seamlessly integrated with your existing resources. For instance, portability is a huge aspect for air ambulance crews and you might want to look for software that can be easily used on handheld devices.
In addition to these two main aspects, you need to also consider several more points based on the individual needs of your operation such as your budget.
Your company is planning to switch to incident management systems so that you can carry out your medical flight operations more efficiently. This is a practical move since technology is practically taking over the medical industry, replacing paper charts and bulky files. Incident management systems can improve the efficiency and productivity of your employees significantly. But even when you are going to make the switch it’s important that you do it right. This would mean investing in the right system that would serve its purpose.
What to Look for in an Incident Management System for Medical Flight Operators
There may be several systems in the market, offering different features and capabilities. But here are some of the most crucial features you need to look for when investing in an incident management system:
- Accuracy in resource tracking and management – You should be able to use the system to easily assign a task or incident to your crew within just a few clicks. The system should also provide you with a summary screen so you can access and track all the incidents in your records.
- Time-tracking features – The system should be equipped with running clocks, through which you can keep track of how much time has passed for an incident. These clocks can help you monitor critical information such as air consumption by the medical flight
- Time stamping for incident logs – This feature enables you to automatically record details of the incident along with an accurate time stamp. Using this feature, you can significantly reduce the time taken to document your activities and compile your daily records. In short, the feature can help you reduce stress by helping you finish your work quickly.
In addition to these three crucial features, you can look for incident management systems with add-on features to meet your requirements.
You may be surprised to read the headline. Aren’t medical flight crews supposed to provide care and not the other way round? If you’re running an air ambulance operation, caring for the physical and emotional well-being of your in-flight crew is a crucial part of running an effective operation. Because overworked, overstressed, and overtired crew members could potentially risk the safety of their patients and fellow crew members.
Providing Emotional Care to Your Crew
You may already have programs set up for employee assistance and critical stress debriefing. These programs can help in providing essential emotional support to your employees in their hour of need. At the same time, they may not be able to realize when they should sign up for these programs unless you make them mandatory.
These programs are especially necessary when a medical flight paramedic or doctor goes through an unexpected clinical event. Such incidents can put them at risk of becoming “second victims”. Make sure your crew members go through a mandatory emotional support and debriefing program after going through the following:
- First patient death on their watch
- Caring for pediatric patients
- Unexpected death of a patient
- Caring for a patient that they personally know
- Experiencing multiple bad outcomes
Promoting Emotional Health and Support for Medical Flight Crews
As an air ambulance operator, you need to be aware of the fact that your employees will be experiencing high levels of physical and emotional stress. In addition to promoting healthy lifestyle, you should take care to promote emotional support among your employees. Take them through regular training and counseling sessions so as to raise awareness about emotional and mental issues.
This could potentially help them in identifying any problematic behavior in their colleagues. This could then lead to timely intervention. So promoting peer support and early intervention could seriously make an impact on the health and wellness of your employees.
As a medical flight paramedic, you would understand that many patients could have been saved if only you had the right equipment. Many air ambulance planes operate on charity and may not have sufficient equipment aside from the basics. If air ambulance operators can afford to supply their aircrafts with high-tech devices, however, portable ultrasounds are a crucial addition.
Importance of Portable Ultrasounds on Medical Flight Aircrafts
If your air ambulance aircraft is equipped with a portable ultrasound, here are some of the ways you can make use of it:
- Identifying OB emergencies – Pre-hospital ultrasound can be used to identify emergency cases like placenta abruption and ectopic pregnancy with around 95% accuracy.
- Confirming airway placement – A portable ultrasound can help you confirm the correct placement of endotracheal tube for airway management. Using this device, you will have better accuracy in differentiating main tracheal intubation from right mainstream intubation.
- Identifying dyspnea causes – With the help of a field ultrasound device, you can more accurately determine the cause of acute dyspnea. You will have a better idea whether it was caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or pulmonary edema.
- Better evaluation of cardiac motion – Medical flight paramedics strive to safely deliver patients to the appropriate medical facility. But in many cases, lack of equipment may prevent you from thoroughly evaluating cardiac motion. This may result in incorrect pre-hospital treatment procedures.
But with a field ultrasound, you should be able to have better accuracy in evaluating cardiac motion. This can help you with correct diagnosis and treatment procedures, increasing the survival to hospital admission.
- Diagnosing strokes – An ultrasonic device can also help you accurately diagnose time-sensitive conditions like strokes. Timely stroke diagnosis can also ensure the transportation of the patient to the appropriate stroke center for specialized treatment.
As a medical flight paramedic, you will come across different situations and patients with various conditions. You might even come across patients undergoing a seizure, in which case you will need to carry out immediate and correct intervention to improve the patient outcome. Many seizure patients will even encounter respiratory issues, making the situation even more critical. This post will help you find out some useful facts about seizures and the accompanying respiratory issues.
Assessment Process for Seizure Patients
Seizures often last for only a few minutes and by the time you arrive on scene, the patient might be unconscious or in a postictal phase. But sometimes, seizures may last more than 20 minutes or even recur before the patient becomes conscious again. These cases are life-threatening and are known as status epilepticus.
Medical flight paramedics should carry out the following assessment steps for seizure patients:
- Determine the duration of the seizure and how many seizures they have had
- Determine whether or not the patient had regained consciousness after each seizure
- Try to determine the underlying cause of the seizure – any medical condition, injury, or trauma that could result in it
- Enquire about any complaints the patient had before the seizure
Airway Management Tips for Medical Flight Paramedics
When carrying out airway management for seizure patients, protecting the upper airway is crucial. You will also need to administer high-flow oxygen and ensure proper ventilation. In case a patient is still seizing or positical, you need to use a non-rebreather mask to administer oxygen and set it at 12-15 liters per minute.
Additionally, stopping the seizure is crucial to ensure proper airway management. So if the patient is still actively seizing you might need to consider administering anti-seizure medication because seizures that last more than 5 minutes might not stop unless you intervene.
As an air ambulance paramedic, your job is to improve the outcome for different medical conditions and injuries. So when it comes to stroke patients, you would be faced with a time-sensitive issue that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. You will need to transport the patient immediately to a facility that is equipped with a CT scanner and other equipment for stroke care. However, you can also make some effort to provide pre-hospital care during the medical flight to further improve the outcome.
Pre-Hospital Stroke Care for Medical Flight Paramedics
When it comes to stroke care, the goal is to help the brain cells survive. So your responsibility involves attending to the ups and downs that may occur during homeostasis. You can prevent serious issues through the medical flight by caring for the issues listed below:
- Hypothermia – Although this may be beneficial for treatment in the future, you need to focus on maintaining normal body temperature for now. Try to prevent hyperthermia by removing any excess clothing and regulating the temperature in the aircraft. You should also prevent shivering, as this can increase body temperature.
- Hypoxia – This decreases the oxygen supply to the brain cells, which calls for supplemental oxygen to ensure normal oxygen saturation.
- Hypoglycemia – This withholds the primary energy source for the brain cells, meaning you will need to replenish the glucose supply without causing hyperglycemia.
- Hypotension – This needs to be controlled through fluid resuscitation so as to ensure that the brain cells get enough oxygen and nutrients for survival. If the patient has normal blood pressure, use a saline lock to make sure it remains that way. In case of hypertension, you will need to follow directions given by the in-flight doctor.