The accuracy of undergraduate paramedic students in measuring blood pressure: A pilot study

Malcolm Boyle, Brett Williams, Simon Sawyer

Abstract


Introduction

Measurement of a blood pressure (BP) in the prehospital setting is one of many basic skills required of a paramedic.  Assessment of BP is also one of several clinical measures that determines the patient’s treatment and possibly the receiving hospital. The objective of this study was to determine the accuracy of undergraduate paramedic students in taking a BP in a non-clinical setting.

Methods

This was a prospective observational study using the Laerdal VitalSim mannequin with the BP volume and strength set at mid range values to test the accuracy of BP measurement.  There were 62 third year Monash University paramedic students available for the study.  We used three different BP ranges, a low, normal and high BP.  Each student was randomly assigned the first and second BP by using a random number table.  Each student was permitted one practice BP prior to the study data collection commencing.  Ethics approval was granted.

Results

A convenience sample of 26 (42%) third year undergraduate paramedic students participated.  69% were female, with 46% being between 21 and 25 years of age.  Two students, nurses, had previous BP measurement experience.  There were six, four and four students who accurately measured the high, normal and low BP respectively.  There was a statistical significant difference between the actual and student measured BP for the high systolic BP (p=0.004), normal systolic BP (p=0.023), and low systolic (p=0.019) and diastolic (p=0.004) BP.

Conclusion

This pilot study has highlighted that third year Monash University paramedic student’s lack BP measurement accuracy in a non-clinical setting.  This pilot study has highlighted the need for a review of how the teaching of BP measurement is undertaken within the curriculum.


Keywords


Blood pressure; education; paramedic; emergency medical technician; student

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.33151/ajp.11.2.23

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