Volunteer citizens were recruited to perform simulated emergency calls, and the expressions and content of these telephone calls were analysed to examine risk factors associated with the success or failure of communication.
Subjects and methods:
Six physicians played the role of patients who had various symptoms, such as cerebral stroke and ischaemic heart disease. Eighty-four volunteer citizens made simulated emergency calls. Physicians at a simulated call centre communicated with each caller regarding the patient's body position, respiratory condition, and cardiovascular status. Details of the telephone communications were analysed to determine if communication was successful.
Telephone communications that resulted in the correct understanding of a simulated patient's condition were as follows: 60.2% of sessions (32/50) on whether or not a patient was breathing; 47.8% of sessions (22/46) on whether or not a patient had a pulse (carotid or radial artery); and 86.2% of sessions (56/65) on patient body position. How a simulated dispatcher verbally expressed questions was the most influential factor in the success of communication regarding respiratory condition and body position. Avoiding vague language, giving specific instructions for checking a patient, and finally reminding the caller to perform the explained procedures led to a high rate of successful communications. Various spoken expressions by simulated dispatchers in confirming patient pulse did not have any impact on the success or failure of communications.
In developing a ‘protocol for emergency call triage’ to achieve a high rate of successful emergency communications, an analysis of expressions using simulated patients is useful.