Ambulance use is not associated with patient acuity after road traffic collisions: a cross-sectional study from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

BACKGROUND: Africa accounts for one sixth of global road traffic deaths-most in the pre-hospital setting. Ambulance transport is expensive relative to other modes of pre-hospital transport, but has advantages in time-sensitive, high-acuity scenarios. Many countries, including Ethiopia, are expanding ambulance fleets, but clinical characteristics of patients using ambulances remain ill-defined., METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study of 662 road traffic collisions (RTC) patients arriving to a single trauma referral center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, over 7 months. Emergency Department triage records were used to abstract clinical and arrival characteristics, including acuity. The outcome of interest was ambulance arrival. Secondary outcomes of interest were inter-facility referral and referral communication. Descriptive and multivariable statistics were computed to identify factors independently associated with outcomes., RESULTS: Over half of patients arrived with either high (13.1%) or moderate (42.2%) acuity. Over half (59.0%) arrived by ambulance, and nearly two thirds (65.9%) were referred. Among referred patients, inter-facility communication was poor (57.7%). Patients with high acuity were most likely to be referred (aOR 2.20, 95%CI 1.16-4.17), but were not more likely to receive ambulance transport (aOR 1.56, 95%CI 0.86-2.84) or inter-facility referral communication (aOR 0.98, 95%CI 0.49-1.94) than those with low acuity. Nearly half (40.2%) of all patients were referred by ambulance despite having low acuity., CONCLUSIONS: Despite ambulance expansion in Addis Ababa, ambulance use among RTC patients remains heavily concentrated among those with low-acuity. Inter-facility referral appears a primary contributor to low-acuity ambulance use. In other contexts, similar routine ambulance monitoring may help identify low-value utilization. Regional guidelines may help direct ambulance use where most valuable, and warrant further evaluation.


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  • Accession Number: 01706486
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 14 2019 12:05PM