Tom Blackwell

Carolinas Medical Center University, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

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Publications (8)42.09 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To describe the experience of a U.S. emergency medical services (EMS) agency utilizing a dispatch algorithm to identify low-acuity patients and determine whether secondary telephone triage by a nurse was associated with subsequent hospital admission among those patients. This was a retrospective study of all patients meeting the low-acuity Omega classification by the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) in a large urban EMS system, conducted in two phases. Patients were excluded from the study if a refusal for transport was obtained, the call was received from a third-party caller, the MPDS system was not used, the patient was being referred from a skilled nursing facility, school, or university nursing office or physician's office, or if the call was referred to the Carolina Poison Center. Patients were enrolled over two phases using two different versions of the MPDS protocol, and in phase 2 patients were offered the option of speaking with an advice-line nurse. The outcome of interest was emergency department disposition, classified as hospital admission or discharge home. Admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) bed was also collected as a subcategory of hospital admission. Of the 1,862 patients in phase 1, 69.3% were discharged home from the emergency department, whereas in phase 2, 73.0% of the 1,078 patients were discharged home. Individuals were most frequently admitted to the hospital across both phases if they had a dispatch determinant of pregnancy, psychiatric/behavioral, fall, sick person. Hospital admission was also associated with receiving an EMS or emergency department procedure. There were 530 patients in phase 2 who underwent secondary triage by an advice-line nurse. Among this cohort of patients, 134 (25.3%) required subsequent hospital admission, with a further three (2.2%) requiring an ICU admission. This study identified a method for classifying patients during the dispatch period as low-acuity while attempting to ensure that those individuals received the medical care that they needed.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Prehospital Emergency Care
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The availability of ambulances to respond to emergency calls is related to their ability to return to service from the hospital. Extended hospital turnaround times decrease the number of available unit hours ambulances are deployed, which in turn can increase coverage costs or sacrifice coverage. To determine whether ambulance turnaround times were associated with patient acuity, destination hospital, and time of day. This retrospective analysis of ambulance hospital turnaround times utilized 12 months of data from a single, countywide, metropolitan emergency medical services (EMS) service. Turnaround time was defined as the interval between the time of ambulance arrival at the hospital and the time the ambulance became available to respond to another call. Independent variables included patient acuity (low [BLS nonemergency transport], medium [ALS care and nonemergency transport], and high [ALS care and emergency transport]), destination hospital (seven regional hospitals), and time of day (one-hour intervals). Data analysis consisted of descriptive statistics, t-tests, and linear regression. Of the 61,094 patient transports, the mean turnaround time was 35.6 minutes (standard deviation [SD] = 16.5). Turnaround time was significantly associated with patient acuity (p < 0.001). High-acuity calls had a mean turnaround time of 52.5 minutes (SD = 21.5), whereas moderate-acuity and low-acuity calls had mean turnaround times of 42.0 minutes (SD = 16.4) and 32.5 minutes (SD = 14.4), respectively. A statistically significant relationship between destination hospital and turnaround time was found, with the differences in means ranging from 30 seconds to 8 minutes. Similarly, time of day was associated with turnaround time, with the longest turnaround times occurring between 0600 and 1500 hours. This study demonstrated that patient acuity, destination hospital, and time of day were associated with variation in ambulance turnaround times. Research describing other system characteristics such as current emergency department census and patient handoff procedures may further demonstrate areas for improvement in HTAT. Results from this analysis may be used to inspire EMS administrators and EMS medical directors to start tracking these times to create a predictive model of EMS staffing needs.
    No preview · Article · May 2011 · Prehospital Emergency Care
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intraosseous (IO) needle insertion is often utilized in the adult population for critical resuscitation purposes. Standard insertion sites include the proximal humerus and proximal tibia, for which limited comparison data are available. This study compared the frequencies of IO first-attempt success between humeral and tibial sites in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. This observational study was conducted in an urban setting between August 28, 2009, and October 31, 2009, and included all medical cardiac arrest patients for whom resuscitative efforts were performed. Cardiac arrest protocols stipulate that paramedics insert an IO line for initial vascular access. During the first month of the study, the proximal humerus was the preferred primary insertion site, whereas the tibia was preferred throughout the second month. The primary outcome was first-attempt success, defined as secure IO needle position in the marrow cavity and normal fluid flow. Any needle dislodgment during resuscitation was also recorded. The association between first-attempt IO success and initial IO insertion location was analyzed using a test of independent proportions and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the difference in proportions. There were 88 cardiac arrest patients receiving IO placement, with 58 (65.9%) patients receiving their initial IO attempt in the tibia. The rate of first-time IO success at the tibia was significantly higher than that observed at the humerus (89.7% vs. 60.0%; p < 0.01). There were 18 initial successes at the humerus; for six (33.3%) of these, the needle became dislodged during resuscitation, compared with 52 initial successes at the tibia, with three (5.8%) dislodgments. The rate of total success for initial IO placements was significantly lower for the humerus (40.0%) compared with that for the tibia (84.5%; p < 0.01) during resuscitation efforts. In this subset of patients, tibial IO needle placement appeared to be a more effective insertion site than the proximal humerus. Success rates were higher with a lower incidence of needle dislodgments. Further randomized studies are required in order to validate these results.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2011 · Prehospital Emergency Care
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Therapeutic hypothermia has been shown to improve both mortality and neurologic outcomes following pulseless ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation. Animal data suggest intra-arrest induction of therapeutic hypothermia (IATH) improves frequency of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). Our objective was to evaluate the association between IATH and ROSC. Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of individuals experiencing non-traumatic cardiac arrest in a large metropolitan area during a 12-month period. Six months into the study a prehospital IATH protocol was instituted whereby patients received 2000ml of 4°C normal saline directly after obtaining IV/IO access. The main outcome variables were prehospital ROSC, survival to admission, and to discharge. A secondary analysis was conducted to assess the relationship between the quantity of cold saline infused and the likelihood of prehospital ROSC. Results: 551 patients met inclusion criteria with all the elements available for data analysis. Rates of prehospital ROSC were 36.5% versus 26.9% (OR 1.83; 95% CI 1.19-2.81) in patients who received IATH versus normothermic resuscitation respectively. While the frequency of survival to hospital admission and discharge were increased among those receiving IATH, the differences did not reach statistical significance. The secondary analysis found a linear association between the amount of cold saline infused and the likelihood of prehospital ROSC. Conclusion: The infusion of 4°C normal saline during the intra-arrest period may improve rate of ROSC even at low fluid volumes. Further study is required to determine if intra-arrest cooling has a beneficial effect on rates of ROSC, mortality, and neurologic function.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Resuscitation
  • Reades R · Studnek JR · Vandeventer S · Garrett J · Blackwell T
    No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Prehospital Emergency Care
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among individuals experiencing an ST segment-elevation myocardial infarction, current guidelines recommend that the interval from first medical contact to percutaneous coronary intervention be ≤90 minutes. The objective of this study was to determine whether prehospital time intervals were associated with ST-elevation myocardial infarction system performance, defined as first medical contact to percutaneous coronary intervention. Study patients presented with an acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction diagnosed by prehospital ECG between May 2007 and March 2009. Prehospital time intervals were as follows: 9-1-1 call receipt to ambulance on scene ≤10 minutes, ambulance on scene to 12-lead ECG acquisition ≤8 minutes, on-scene time ≤15 minutes, prehospital ECG acquisition to ST-elevation myocardial infarction team notification ≤10 minutes, and scene departure to patient on cardiac catheterization laboratory table ≤30 minutes. Time intervals were derived and analyzed with descriptive statistics and logistic regression. There were 181 prehospital patients who received percutaneous coronary intervention, with 165 (91.1) having complete data. Logistic regression indicated that table time, response time, and on-scene time were the benchmark time intervals with the greatest influence on the probability of achieving percutaneous coronary intervention in ≤90 minutes. Individuals with a time from scene departure to arrival on cardiac catheterization laboratory table of ≤30 minutes were 11.1 times (3.4 to 36.0) more likely to achieve percutaneous coronary intervention in ≤90 minutes than those with extended table times. In this patient population, prehospital timing benchmarks were associated with system performance. Although meeting all 5 benchmarks may be an ideal goal, this model may be more useful for identifying areas for system improvement that will have the greatest clinical impact.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2010 · Circulation
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The benefit of prehospital endotracheal intubation (ETI) among individuals experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OOHCA) has not been fully examined. The objective of this study was to determine if prehospital ETI attempts were associated with return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and survival to discharge among individuals experiencing OOHCA. This retrospective study included individuals who experienced a medical cardiac arrest between July 2006 and December 2008 and had resuscitation efforts initiated by paramedics from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Outcome variables were prehospital ROSC and survival to hospital discharge, while the primary independent variable was the number of prehospital ETI attempts. There were 1,142 cardiac arrests included in the analytic data set. Prehospital ROSC occurred in 299 individuals (26.2%). When controlling for initial arrest rhythm and other confounding variables, individuals with no ETI attempted were 2.33 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.63 to 3.33) times more likely to have ROSC compared to those with one successful ETI attempt. Of the 299 individuals with prehospital ROSC, 118 (39.5%) were subsequently discharged alive from the hospital. Individuals having no ETI were 5.46 (95% CI = 3.36 to 8.90) times more likely to be discharged from the hospital alive compared to individuals with one successful ETI attempt. Results from these analyses suggest a negative association between prehospital ETI attempts and survival from OOHCA. In this study, the individuals most likely to have prehospital ROSC and survival to hospital discharge were those who did not have a reported ETI attempt. Further comparative research should assess the potential causes of the demonstrated associations.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2010 · Academic Emergency Medicine
  • Studnek JR · Garvey L · Blackwell T · Vandeventer S · Ward S
    No preview · Article · Jan 2010 · Circulation