Paramedics could be key to better end-of-life care


Did you know that paramedics could play a big role in helping people who are nearing the end of their lives?

Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and the Australasian College of Paramedicine (ACP) think so. They’re working together to make it easier for paramedics to help these patients.

Right now, paramedics face some big problems when trying to help people who need end-of-life care. They often can’t see important medical records, can’t give certain medicines, and don’t know where to send patients besides the emergency room. This means many people end up in the hospital when they don’t need to be there.

John Bruning from ACP says, “Paramedics want to be able to better support palliative care patients but currently face a number of barriers in doing that, resulting in unnecessary emergency department presentations and potential ambulance ramping. These barriers restrict paramedics from meeting the fundamental health care needs of these patients.”

The groups are calling on decision-makers for three main things:

  1. Provide paramedics with access to electronic medical records to view patients’ advance care planning and palliative care details in real time.
  2. Allow ambulance services to deliver specific medications for common end-of-life symptoms, reducing unnecessary hospital transfers.
  3. Incorporate and connect paramedics with local palliative care referral pathways, beyond an emergency department.

Camilla Rowland from PCA adds, “Increasing access to community based, in-home palliative care needs to be the next chapter of health and aged care reform – and changes to how paramedics work is part of that.”

Dr Madeleine Juhrmann, a trained paramedic, has come up with a plan to make this happen. She talked to lots of different healthcare workers and families to figure out how paramedics could help more.

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