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Resuscitation. 2006 Jun;69(3):389-93. Epub 2006 Mar 23.

Physician Response Unit -- a feasibility study of an initiative to enhance the delivery of pre-hospital emergency medical care.

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Department of A&E and Pre-Hospital Care, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London E1 1BB, UK.



To describe the rationale, development and initial results of a collaborative pre-hospital pilot project designed to enhance the emergency care needs of an inner city population.


Retrospective descriptive analysis of emergency calls attended by a rapid response car staffed by a pre-hospital care physician and ambulance service technician or paramedic.


Seven hundred and forty-eight consecutive patients over a 13-month period are described. Six hundred and thirty-eight (82%) patients underwent clinical consultation with a physician within 8 min of emergency call. The Physician Response Unit (PRU) also provided an additional vehicle responding to emergency calls, reaching the national 8 min target response time in 638 (82%) of all cases. Two hundred and eighty-nine (39%) of the patients attended had medical therapy initiated by the PRU physician. Nearly two-thirds of this group, 189 (65%), received medical therapy outside current ambulance service protocols. A physician medical escort was provided for 142 (25%) of patients attending hospital. Of all patients seen 577 (77%) attended the emergency department via ambulance, and 136 (18%) patients were assessed, treated and prevented from attending the emergency department.


The PRU provided clinical care beyond that delivered by the ambulance service. It also contributed positively to local ambulance service response times. The service was able to prevent unnecessary ambulance journeys and attendance at hospital. It demonstrates that traditional working practices can be altered to improve the delivery of emergency medical care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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