Administration and Leadership, Airway & Respiratory, Patient Care

Holiday Algorithmics

Issue 11 and Volume 34.

I doubt anyone can argue that EMS medical procedures are more complex today than they used to be. We no longer lump all our patient care into the one simple (but fun) formula of driving all those we encounter on scene to the hospital in an insanely fast manner. EMS care has also become more sophisticated in its patient billing collection process. No, wait; I mean, it’s become more of a scientific art form.

With more advanced diagnostic training and added on-scene technological data gathering capabilities, we’re now able to increasingly narrow down the probable causes of our patient’s illness or injury and treat (and bill) accordingly. (Gee, I just love it when I can ramble a series of multisyllable words that sound halfway intelligent.)

The only problem with trying to resolve the patient’s explicit dilemma is that it requires a series of redundant step-by-step appraisal procedures to meet the precise criteria for treatment. And because you have to consider the thousands of ways the human body can malfunction, one can feel lost and confused on which direction to go while accessing the sick, injured and/or uninsured.

Thank goodness someone (EMS geek) came up with the idea of creating pocket-sized algorithmic reference cards. Wahoo!

Now, regardless of whether the patient is a pediatric, geriatric, cardiac, trauma, burn, OBGYN call or Republican, you have something to fall back on should your brain suddenly go blank. EMS folks are visual learners and prefer to look at pretty pictures over words, so it’s great to see algorithmic formulas inserted within multicolored, shaded boxes and arrows pointing toward and away from each other from every conceivable angle.

An algorithm also provides a sequence of instructions and operations on how to solve a particular problem by simply offering the “yes” or “no” options so you can zigzag your way along a maze of arrows. The more complex the problem, the more the algorithm replicates itself–creating even more boxes in its attempt to solve the problem, while bringing you to tears secondary to trying to keep up with all the meandering road mapping and microscopic wording. By the way, the reference cards are laminated to prevent them from getting waterlogged with tears or being ripped to pieces.

With the holiday so near, I thought I would put together an algorithm to help reduce your stress as an EMS provider should you respond to obligatory family gatherings. Check it out in the November 2009 issue of JEMS. (Lamination and reading glasses not included.)

Until next time, happy holidays.