Andrew Kirk, Philip W Crompton, Katherine Knighting, Jennifer Kirton, Barbara Jack
Journal of Paramedic Practice, Vol. 9, Iss. 2, 03 Feb 2017, pp 71 - 79

Background: Studies have highlighted paramedics are inadequately prepared to
care for patients who are at the end of their life, due to the historical focus of
their training on acute medical management. This appears to cause conflict with
paramedic perceptions of their role.

Objective: To gain an understanding of paramedics' perceptions, confidence and
concerns towards dealing with end of life care patients and their families.

Design: An online survey comprising open and closed questions was distributed
to all paramedics in a regional ambulance service in the north of England.
Demographic data included: National Health Service (NHS) grade, personal
experience, education and training to contextualise the data. A total population
sample across differing organisational roles was used for paramedics in a
regional ambulance service in the north of England. Responses were obtained
from 182 staff.

Results: NHS grade and length of service as a paramedic influenced the
participant's confidence and concerns when dealing with end of life patients. A
large number of participants (n=126, 70%) identified validity of documentation
as a concern with 83 (46%) highlighting fear of litigation and 90 (50%)
identifying that conflict with families was a concern. Support from other services
was viewed as a contributing factor to increased paramedic involvement in end
of life care.

Conclusion: Most paramedics viewed end of life care as central to their role, but
there was a need for further specific education to help enable paramedics to feel
more confident, competent and supported in ensuring patients receive optimal
care.

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