A qualitative exploration of current paramedic cardiac auscultation practices

Tom Mallinson
September 2018

This exploratory study addresses the current paucity of knowledge available in UK paramedic practice in relation to cardiac auscultation. There is a recognised lack of data surrounding the efficacy, safety and relevance of patient assessment skills in the pre-hospital setting in general, and cardiac auscultation specifically. This study provides information about current paramedic practice, and provides a basis for further research in this area. An online survey was distributed using convenience and snowball sampling, receiving 328 responses within a 31-day period. The results show that many paramedics rarely, or indeed never, undertake cardiac auscultation and that many lack confidence in recognising normal and abnormal heart sounds. There is also a divided opinion among respondents who provided free-text answers, with some feeling that the skill of cardiac auscultation is vital in pre-hospital care and others firmly disagreeing. This research lays the groundwork for further developments in training, education and continuing professional development for paramedics.

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