Importance of patient selection in evaluating a cardiac ambulance service.Br Med J 1976; 1 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.6003.201 (Published 24 January 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;1:201
- J R Hampton
All patients brought to hospital by a special cardiac ambulance were followed up and compared with patients carried by routine ambulances to assess the effectiveness of a cardiac ambulance service. The overall mortality of patients with heart attacks was 51% among those carried by an ordinary ambulance and 40% among those carried by the cardiac ambulance. The apparently low mortality in the latter group was balanced, however, by a high mortality (68%) among patients carried by ordinary ambulances when the cardiac ambulance was available but not used; these patients tended to have a short duration of symptoms and heart attacks away from home, and their ambulance was more often called by a member of the public than a general practitioner. It seems therefore that low-risk cases were inadvertently selected for transport by the cardiac ambulance; such unintentional selection makes it difficult to evaluate a cardiac ambulance service.