Abstract Background During the first weeks of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the North Denmark emergency medical services authorised paramedics to assess patients suspected of COVID-19 at home, and then decide if conveyance to a hospital was required. The aim of this study was to describe the cohort of patients who were assessed at home and their outcomes in terms of subsequent hospital visits and short-term mortality. Methods This was a historical cohort study in the North Denmark Region with consecutive inclusion of patients suspected of COVID-19 who were referred to a paramedic’s assessment visit by their general practitioner or an out-of-hours general practitioner. The study was conducted from 16 March to 20 May 2020. The outcomes were the proportion of non-conveyed patients who subsequently visited a hospital within 72 hours of the paramedic’s assessment visit and mortality at 3, 7 and 30 days. Mortality was estimated using a Poisson regression model with robust variance estimation. Results During the study period, 587 patients with a median age of 75 (IQR 59–84) years were referred to a paramedic’s assessment visit. Three of four patients (76.5%, 95% CI 72.8;79.9) were non-conveyed, and 13.1% (95% CI 10.2;16.6) of the non-conveyed patients were subsequently referred to a hospital within 72 hours of the paramedic’s assessment visit. Within 30 days from the paramedic’s assessment visit, mortality was 11.1% [95% CI 6.9;17.9] among patients directly conveyed to a hospital and 5.8% [95% CI 4.0;8.5] among non-conveyed patients. Medical record review revealed that deaths in the non-conveyed group had happened among patients with ‘do-not-resuscitate’ orders, palliative care plans, severe comorbidities, age ≥ 90 years or nursing home residents. Conclusions The majority (87%) of the non-conveyed patients did not visit a hospital for the following three days after a paramedic’s assessment visit. The study implies that this newly established prehospital arrangement served as a kind of gatekeeper for the region’s hospitals in regard to patients suspected of COVID-19. The study also demonstrates that implementation of non-conveyance protocols should be accompanied by careful and regular evaluation to ensure patient safety.
|Date made available||2023|