A qualitative exploration of current paramedic cardiac auscultation practices

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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