The capabilities and scope-of-practice requirements of advanced life support practitioners undertaking critical care transfers: A Delphi study

Monique Venter, Willem Stassen


Background. Critical care transfers (CCT) refer to the high level of care given during transport (via ambulance, helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft) of patients who are of high acuity. In South Africa (SA), advanced life support (ALS) paramedics undertake CCTs. The scope of ALS in SA has no extended protocol regarding procedures or medications in terms of dealing with these CCTs.
Aim. The aim of this study was to obtain the opinions of several experts in fields pertaining to critical care and transport and to gain consensus on the skills and scope-of-practice requirements of paramedics undertaking CCTs in the SA setting.
Methods. A modified Delphi study consisting of three rounds was undertaken using an online survey platform. A heterogeneous sample (n=7), consisting of specialists in the fields of anaesthesiology, emergency medicine, internal medicine, critical care, critical care transport and paediatrics, was asked to indicate whether, in their opinion, selected procedures and medications were needed within the scope of practice of paramedics undertaking CCTs.
Results. After three rounds, consensus was obtained in 70% (57/81) of procedures and medications. Many of these items are not currently within the scope of paramedics’ training. The panel felt that paramedics undertaking these transfers should have additional postgraduate training that is specific to critical care.
Conclusion. Major discrepancies exist between the current scope of paramedic practice and the suggested required scope of practice for CCTs. An extended scope of practice and additional training should be considered for these practitioners.

Authors' affiliations

Monique Venter, Department of Emergency Medical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Willem Stassen, Department of Emergency Medical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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Patient Transfer, Emergency Medical Services

Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Critical Care 2016;32(2):58. DOI:10.7196/SAJCC.2016.v32i2.275

Article History

Date submitted: 2016-04-14
Date published: 2016-11-10

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