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Prehosp Emerg Care. 1999 Jan-Mar;3(1):54-9.

Development of an electronic emergency medical services patient care record.

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Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center, Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson 85724-5057, USA.



The need for valid and reliable emergency medical services (EMS) data has long been recognized. EMS data are useful for monitoring resources and operations, documenting patient care and outcome, and evaluating injury prevention strategies. The goal of this project was to develop a computerized data set with the capability to generate a patient care record (PCR) to overcome some of the current EMS data limitations.


The authors discuss developing an electronic PCR and analysis data set containing 233 variables. Data are collected for the following: incident, response, scene, patient, history, primary survey (including vital signs), physical examination, physiologic scores, diagnostics, plan (medications and procedures), assessment, and reevaluation. Software on a portable computer installed in an EMS response unit utilizes a graphical user interface for data collection by prehospital emergency care providers. A data set stores codes corresponding to user's selections. This data set supports data storage and analysis. The electronic PCR and data set can be useful to EMS agencies for collecting, storing, reporting, and analyzing information.


Variables are categorized into 12 main categories to categorize the variables and to drive data collection. The system provides the user with the ability to print out a record (using a portable printer installed in an ambulance) and analyze data stored in the data set.


This computerized approach overcomes many limitations inherent with using paper-based systems for research. Linked with emergency department, hospital discharge, and mortality data, EMS data can be used in systems analyses related to patient outcome.

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