Remote communities in the UK can be a long way from emergency medical assistance, consequently people living in remote communities can have a long wait for diagnosis and treatment - in bad weather this can be a very long wait!
European satellite technology is now capable of assisting, sending scans and ultrasound images direct to A & E so that doctors are ready to begin treatment as soon as the patient arrives. A system being trialled in Scotland is also capable of receiving advice from doctors based on the radiology while the patient is still in transit, a system thought to be of particular use during long journeys. The system is based in each ambulance enabling it to travel to (or the nearest point on a road) any patient and is currently focussing on life threatening conditions such as heart attack, major trauma, respiratory distress etc.
Dr Leila Eadie, Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Rural Health, explains: “We are taking diagnostic tools used in the emergency department into rural ambulances, making them available at the site of an emergency. Previous studies have shown the biggest barrier to practical use of pre-hospital ultrasound is interpretation of the scans: images can be acquired with basic training and SatCare will facilitate expert assessment of images in the field. We want to maximise the benefits of having ultrasound available without requiring paramedics to undertake extensive sonography training.”
Professor Philip Wilson, Director of the Centre for Rural Health said: “This trial is a landmark in rural emergency care research. It will establish the best way to use very sophisticated technology to support paramedics in caring for sick patients on the long journey to hospital and to alert A&E staff to what kind of treatments may be needed when the patient arrives. This research will tell us how effective and, equally important, how cost-effective this technology can be.”