The vast majority of the sickest patients who attend Emergency Departments (EDs) around Ireland are brought there by ambulance. It has long been recognised that very significant issues of misinformation or miscommunication may arise where clinical care is handed over from any one healthcare provider to another. The Association therefore welcomes the launch by the national Emergency Medicine Programme of the National Ambulance Patient Handover Protocol (IMIST – AMBO). Implementation of this protocol will reduce risks associated with patients being handed over from ambulance staff to medical and nursing staff in EDs.
The launch took place on 26th July 2016 at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and was attended by almost 100 nurses, doctors and clerical staff and was streamed to a further 500 healthcare providers around the country. The IMIST-AMBO Handover Protocol will be rolled out across all 29 EDs in the country over the next few months and is supported by a training video that is available both on HSELand and on YouTube.
In addition to standardising the handover process, the protocol is specifically intended to optimise the safety and quality of patient care during the transition of care between pre-hospital providers and ED teams. It will also better allow audit of this interface and, furthermore, provide a more standardised and reliable means of capturing the Ambulance Patient Handover Time which is a key performance indicator (KPI) nationally. Attainment of this KPI standard, which is currently set at 20 minutes from the point of arrival, is unfortunately often adversely affected by the crowding of EDs with admitted hospital inpatients.
The Association looks forward to further initiatives to optimise and standardise care throughout the national emergency care system.