An effective emergency medical dispatch process is vital to provide appropriate prehospital care to patients. It increases patient safety and ensures the sustainable use of medical resources. Although Copenhagen has a sophisticated emergency medical services (EMS) system with a significant focus on public welfare, more than 10% of emergency calls are still being categorized as an "unclear problem" and are thus not categorized as "symptom-specific". Therefore, the objective of this research is to gain a better understanding of underlying implications that lead to the categorization of an emergency call as "unclear". This research investigates the effects of the "unclear problem" category (UPC) on the medical dispatching process at the emergency medical dispatch center in Copenhagen. Also, it explores the effectiveness of educating medical dispatchers about the use of the UPC to reduce its use.
This was a register-based study based on medical emergency call data. Descriptive analyses were conducted to investigate the effect of using the UPC on the medical dispatching process and determine the impact of alerting medical dispatchers to reduce its use.
The UPC accounted for 11.4% of the calls. Elderly patients were most often dispatched with the UPC. The UPC could impact the medical dispatching process in several potentially harmful, ways. Namely, it could lead to under or over triage and lead to inefficient use of EMS resources. Sensitizing medical dispatchers about the use of the UPC could have contributed to the decrease in the use of the UPC.
The use of the UPC could have negative implications on patients' outcomes and the efficient use of EMS resources due to its possible impact on over-or under triage. The UPC is mainly used when dispatching the elderly. Nonetheless, the use of the UPC decreased throughout the study period after the medical dispatchers were alerted about the implications of its use.