Pediatric Emergencies in Helicopter Emergency Medical Services: A National Population-Based Cohort Study From Denmark

Vibe M. L. Nielsen*, Niels H. Bruun, Morten B. Søvsø, Torben A. Kløjgård, Hans M. Lossius, Lars Bender, Søren Mikkelsen, Mona Tarpgaard, Jens A. K. Petersen, Erika F. Christensen


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STUDY OBJECTIVE: To examine the diagnostic pattern, level of severity of illness or injuries, and mortality among children for whom a physician-staffed helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) was dispatched.

METHODS: Population-based cohort study including patients aged less than 16 years treated by the Danish national HEMS from October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2018. Diagnoses were retrieved from inhospital medical records, and the severity of illness or injuries was assessed by a severity score on scene, administration of advanced out-of-hospital care, need for intensive care in a hospital, and mortality.

RESULTS: In total, 651 HEMS missions included pediatric patients aged less than 1 year (9.2%), 1 to 2 years (29.0%), 3 to 7 years (28.3%), and 8 to 15 years (33.5%). A third of the patients had critical emergencies (29.6%), and for 20.1% of the patients, 1 or more out-of-hospital interventions were performed: intubation, mechanical chest compressions, intraosseous vascular access, blood transfusion, chest tube insertion, and/or ultrasound examination. Among the 525 patients with hospital follow-up, the most frequent hospital diagnoses were injuries (32.2%), burns (11.2%), and respiratory diseases (7.8%). Within 24 hours of the mission, 18.1% of patients required intensive care. Twenty-nine patients (5.1%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.6 to 7.3) died either on or within 1 day of the mission, and the cumulative 30-day mortality was 35 of 565 (6.2%, 95% CI 4.5 to 8.5) (N=565 first-time missions).

CONCLUSION: On Danish physician-staffed HEMS missions, 1 in 5 pediatric patients required advanced out-of-hospital care. Among hospitalized patients, nearly one-fifth of the patients required immediate intensive care and 6.2% died within 30 days of the mission.

TidsskriftAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)143-153
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2022

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Copyright © 2022 American College of Emergency Physicians. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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