Purpose: Addressing a patient``s chief complaint is the first and key element of treating patients. This study determined the effectiveness of emergency medical technician and residents of an emergency department in addressing a patient``s chief complaints. If emergency and hospital personnel misunderstand the chief symptoms of patients it could result in erroneous transport and treatment, thus losing precious time in finding the proper treatment.
Methods: A retrospective chart review study was performed in 1137 patients (at least 18 years of age), who visited one university hospital, for a period of 3 months. Patients who were did not undergo trauma, addiction, and cardiac arrest were included.
Results: A total of 150 cases (13.2%) did not match the chief symptoms reported by 119 emergency medical personnel and emergency medicine residents. Systemic symptoms, nervous system symptoms, and psychiatric symptoms were the main categories inconsistently assessed. The rank and certification of emergency medical technicians did not make a difference, but older patients (59 years of age or older) were statistically different. The assessment fo chief symptoms by an emergency medical resident tended to be more accurate than assessment of emergency medical technicians in the final diagnosis.
Conclusion: Systemic symptoms, nervous symptoms, and psychiatric symptoms, were chief complaines easily misreported for older patients. This likely reflects a difficulty in the evaluation of obscure symptoms in older patients. It will require specific additional training programs to improve the response to these chief complaints.
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