Long-Term Mortality of Emergency Medical Services Patients

Morten T Bøtker, Christian J Terkelsen, Jan Nørtved Sørensen, Søren Bruun Jepsen, Søren P Johnsen, Erika F Christensen, Mikkel Strømgaard Andersen

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STUDY OBJECTIVE: Emergency medical services (EMS) provides out-of-hospital care to patients with life-threatening conditions, but the long-term outcomes of EMS patients are unknown. We seek to determine the long-term mortality of EMS patients in Denmark.

METHODS: We analyzed linked EMS, hospital, and vital status data from 3 of 5 geographic regions in Denmark. We included events from July 1, 2011, to December 31, 2012. We classified EMS events according to primary dispatch category (unconsciousness/cardiac arrest, accidents/trauma, chest pain, dyspnea, neurologic symptoms, and other EMS patients). The primary outcome was 1-year mortality adjusted for age, sex, and Charlson comorbidity index.

RESULTS: Among 142,125 EMS events, primary dispatch categories were unconsciousness or cardiac arrest 5,563 (3.9%), accidents or trauma 40,784 (28.7%), chest pain 20,945 (14.7%), dyspnea 9,607 (6.8%), neurologic symptoms 17,804 (12.5%), and other EMS patients 47,422 (33.4%). One-year mortality rates were unconscious or cardiac arrest 54.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 53.4% to 56.1%), accidents or trauma 7.8 (95% CI 7.5% to 8.1%), chest pain 8.5% (95% CI 8.1% to 9.0%), dyspnea 27.7% (95% CI 26.7% to 28.7%), neurologic symptoms 14.1% (95% CI 13.6% to 14.7%), and other EMS patients 11.1% (95% CI 10.8% to 11.4%). Compared with other EMS conditions, adjusted 1-year mortality was higher in unconsciousness or cardiac arrest (risk ratio [RR] 2.6; 95% CI 2.5 to 2.7), dyspnea (RR 1.5; 95% CI 1.4 to 1.5), and in neurologic symptoms (RR 1.1; 95% CI 1.0 to 1.1), but lower in chest pain (RR 0.6; 95% CI 0.6 to 0.7) and accidents or trauma (RR 0.8; 95% CI 0.8 to 0.8).

CONCLUSION: EMS patients with unconsciousness or cardiac arrest, dyspnea, and neurologic symptoms are at highest risk of long-term mortality. Our results suggest a potential for outcome improvement in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Pages (from-to)366-373.e3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Journal Article


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