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The Association Between Emergency Medical Services Field Performance Assessed by High‐fidelity Simulation and the Cognitive Knowledge of Practicing Paramedics

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Abstract:



ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:1177–1185 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
Abstract

Objectives:  The objective of this study was to assess the association between the performance of practicing paramedics on a validated cognitive exam and their field performance, assessed on a simulated emergency medical services (EMS) response.

Methods:  This was an observational study of paramedics from a single‐tiered, urban, advanced life support EMS agency. A high‐fidelity simulated response to a medical emergency on environmentally realistic sound stages, and the cognitive portion of the national paramedic certification exam, were each assessed as pass or fail. Participants were randomly assigned to one of six simulations designed by the agency’s educational staff, medical director, and representatives from the National Registry of EMTs to be equivalently difficult. Simulations were pilot tested to assess content and face validity. Each participant was classified as failing a simulation scenario if his or her score was one standard deviation (SD) below the population mean.

Results:  There were 107 paramedics who participated in the study. Participants reported a median of 7.7 years of service (interquartile range [IQR] = 4.1 to 12.8 years). Simulation scores were normally distributed. Ninety‐two (86.0%) participants received a passing score for the simulation and 77 (72.0%) passed the cognitive exam. There were 70 (65.4%) individuals who passed both the simulation and the cognitive exam, eight (7.5%) who failed both the simulation and the cognitive exam, 22 (20.6%) who passed the simulation but failed the cognitive exam, and seven (6.5%) who failed the simulation but passed the cognitive exam. There was a significant association between passing the cognitive exam and passing the simulation (chi‐square p‐value = 0.02).

Conclusions:  This study simultaneously assessed cognitive knowledge and simulated field performance. Utilization of these measurement techniques allowed for the assessment and comparison of field performance and cognitive knowledge. Results demonstrated an association between a practicing paramedic’s performance on a cognitive examination and field performance, assessed by a simulated EMS response.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1553-2712.2011.01208.x

Affiliations: 1: From the Carolinas Medical Center, The Center for Prehospital Medicine and Mecklenburg EMS Agency (a joint agency of Mecklenburg County, Carolinas Health Care System, and Presbyterian Health Care System) (JRS), Charlotte, NC; the EMS Performance Improvement Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina (ARF), Chapel Hill, NC; and the Mecklenburg EMS Agency (BS, MG, MC), Charlotte, NC. 2: From the Carolinas Medical Center, The Center for Prehospital Medicine and Mecklenburg EMS Agency (a joint agency of Mecklenburg County, Carolinas Health Care System, and Presbyterian Health Care System) (JRS), Charlotte, NC; the EMS Performance Improvement Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina (ARF), Chapel Hill, NC; and the Mecklenburg EMS Agency (BS, MG, MC), Charlotte, NC.

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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