Assessing the knowledge of emergency medical care personnel in the Free State, South Africa, on aspects of paediatric pre-hospital emergency care
Introduction: in South Africa in 2016, injuries accounted for 4 483 deaths of children aged 0-4 years. Prior studies have reported that, in some parts of the country, poor pre-hospital clinical care is a key contributor to the morbidity and mortality of critically ill and injured children. A key component of a coordinated emergency health care system are emergency medical care (EMC) personnel. Here, we assess the knowledge of EMC personnel employed by the Free State Department of Health on aspects of paediatric pre-hospital emergency care.
Methods: this descriptive study used a questionnaire survey to obtain data on the knowledge of Free State EMC personnel on aspects of paediatric pre-hospital emergency care.
Results: only 197 of the initial 250 questionnaires distributed were returned, giving a response rate of 78.8%. More than half (51.2%) of the participants across the five districts had inadequate knowledge of paediatric pre-hospital emergency care. The majority of EMC personnel could not calculate the paediatric blood pressure for age and did not know the paediatric Glasgow Coma Scale (74.0% and 53.4% respectively; P < 0.0001 in both cases). Participants attributed inadequate knowledge to limited exposure to paediatrics cases, insufficient training, limited scope of practice, and lack of equipment.
Conclusion: enhancing the knowledge and skills of EMC personnel in paediatrics pre-hospital care through a short learning programme or continuous professional development programme, and providing adequate paediatric emergency equipment, will ensure that comprehensive pre-hospital emergency care is given to paediatric patients in the province.