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Abstract

Objective The Ottawa Ankle Rule (OAR) is extensively documented in the emergency department setting and has been subjected to repeated validation. However, the prehospital experience in implementing this clinical decision rule appears poorly described. The objective of this study is to identify evidence (of any level) describing the use of the OAR by paramedics.

Methods A literature search was conducted of the following key electronic databases; Medline (1950 to March Week 1 2010); EMBASE (1980-Week 10 2010) and CINAHL (1981-March 2010). The keywords 'ankle injury', 'clinical decision rule', 'paramedic', 'ambulance', 'prehospital', and 'emergency care' were used to frame the search, while a prehospital and emergency care search filter was used to maximise the sensitivity of the search. A review was conducted of the reference lists accompanying each relevant article to identify other potentially relevant citations. The search criteria included published articles which were both primary research and secondary review papers, and conference abstracts of any research design. We excluded non-English articles and letters. The abstracts of all citations in the search results were reviewed and full text articles for studies of interest were retrieved for examination.

Results The search yielded 98 citations, with 80 relating directly to the OAR. After reviewing the abstracts of all citations, no articles of any study design, discussing the use of the OAR by paramedics in the out-of-hospital setting were identified.

Conclusion Whilst there is no published evidence describing the use of the OAR by paramedics in the prehospital setting, it is feasible that paramedics could implement the rule safely and with equivalent sensitivity and specificity to other settings. This clinical decision rule may have good utility as a triage tool that could be used to stream suitable patients into non-emergency department alternatives. Research is needed to validate the use of the OAR when used within EMS jurisdictions.

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