Background: In Australia approximately 25% of Emergency Department (ED) attendances are via ambulance. ED overcrowding in Australia, as in many countries, is common. Measures to reduce overcrowding include the provision of enhanced timely primary care in the community for appropriate low risk injury and illness. Therefore paramedic assessment and referral to a community home hospital service, in preference to transfer to ED, may confer clinical and cost benefit.
Methods/Design: A randomised controlled trial. Consenting adult patients that call an ambulance and are assessed by paramedics as having an eligible low risk problem will be randomised to referral to ED via ambulance transfer or referral to a rapid response service that will assess and treat the patient in their own residence. The primary outcome measure is requirement for unplanned medical attention (in or out of hospital) in the first 48 hours. Secondary outcomes will include a number of other clinical endpoints. A cost effectiveness analysis will be conducted.
Discussion: If this trial demonstrates clinical non-inferiority and cost savings associated with the primary assessment service, it will provide one means to safely address ED overcrowding.
Trial Registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry Number 12610001064099
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