A French FIRST in pre-hospital medicine

A contribution has been made to the literature supporting physician intervention in some pre-hospital trauma patients, in the form of the FIRST study: French Intensive care Recorded in Severe Trauma. Not exactly the class 1 evidence we’d (well, I’d) like to see, but a prospective study from France comparing outcomes in patients treated by routine pre-hospital providers with those managed in the field by emergency physicians working for SMUR (Service Mobile d’Urgences et de RĂ©animation). Primary outcome was 30-day mortality. Only patients admitted to an ICU were included, and researchers were not blinded to which group (SMUR vs nonSMUR) patients belonged. A large group of SMUR patients (2513) was compared with a much smaller (190) nonSMUR group.

Patients were sicker in the SMUR group (lower GCS and SpO2, higher Injury Severity Score, higher frequency of abnormal pupils). Unadjusted mortality was not significantly different but when adjustment for ISS and physiological status was made (I don’t really understand how this was done), SMUR care was significantly associated with a reduced risk of 30-day mortality (OR: 0.55, 95% CI: 0.32-0.94, p = 0.03).

Lots of interesting points in this study, most of which ask more questions that they answer. The French pre-hospital physicians have an aggressive approach to trauma resuscitation, doing rapid sequence intubation in more than a half of their patients and even starting catecholamine infusions as a fluid-sparing strategy in shocked patients. The full text link is worth a read for those interested in this area of medicine.

Medical pre-hospital management reduces mortality in severe blunt trauma: a prospective epidemiological study
Critical Care 2011, 15:R34
Full text as provisional PDF