Prehospital use of the paediatric observation priority score

Background: In the prehospital setting, the incidence of seriously unwell children is low and emergency medical staff have repeatedly expressed concerns about their confidence and knowledge with regard to assessing children. The paediatric observation priority score (POPS) was designed in response to concerns about the identification of seriously unwell children. The ambulance service in this study began to implement POPS in 2018. Aim: To examine the use and documentation of POPS by ambulance staff in a Welsh health board. Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study was carried out, covering 121 paediatric patients over 3 months with data collected from patient clinical records. Findings: Patient observations were well documented (77.7%), score accuracy was high (82%) and the majority of patients were pre-alerted appropriately (80% of POPS 7). Statistically significant associations were drawn between patient age and observations as well as between POPS and patient outcomes. However, compliance with POPS was only 32.3%. Conclusion: Although the use of POPS is relatively low, children mainly did have relevant observations recorded and when POPS was used, it was accurate. Education and training would improve compliance. Future research recommendations include investigating the education and confidence of emergency medical staff regarding paediatric patients.

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