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Medical dispatchers' perception of the interaction with the caller during emergency calls: a qualitative study

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BACKGROUND: Medical dispatching is a highly complex procedure and has an impact upon patient outcome. It includes call-taking and triage, prioritization of resources and the provision of guidance and instructions to callers. Whilst emergency medical dispatchers play a key role in the process, their perception of the process is rarely reported. We explored medical dispatchers' perception of the interaction with the caller during emergency calls. Secondly, we aimed to develop a model for emergency call handling based on these findings.

METHODS: To provide an in-depth understanding of the dispatching process, an explorative qualitative interview study was designed. A grounded theory design and thematic analysis were applied.

RESULTS: A total of 5 paramedics and 6 registered nurses were interviewed. The emerging themes derived from dispatchers' perception of the emergency call process were related to both the callers and the medical dispatchers themselves, from which four and three themes were identified, respectively. Dispatchers reported that for callers, the motive for calling, the situation, the perception and presentation of the problem was influencing factors. For the dispatchers the expertise, teamwork and organization influenced the process. Based on the medical dispatchers´ perception, a model of the workflow and interaction between the caller and the dispatcher was developed based on themes related to the caller and the dispatcher.

CONCLUSIONS: According to medical dispatchers, the callers seem to lack knowledge about best utilization of the emergency number and the medical dispatching process, which can be improved by public awareness campaigns and incorporating information into first aid courses. For medical dispatchers the most potent modifiable factors were based upon the continuous professional development of the medical dispatchers and the system that supports them. The model of call handling underlines the complexity of medical dispatching that embraces the context of the call beyond clinical presentation of the problem.

TidsskriftScandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)1-10
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 9 mar. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
TPM, HGJ, SV, and DO reports no conflicts of interest. FL has received unrestricted research grants from the Laerdal Foundation and from the Danish foundation TrygFonden. The research center at the Copenhagen EMS receives an unrestricted research grant from the Laerdal Foundation.

ID: 64403598