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

Malcolm Boyle, Brett Williams, Simon Sawyer



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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Full Text:



Macken L, Manovel A. Trauma bypass in south-eastern Sydney: an 8-year review. Emerg Med Australas. 2005;17(2):137-42.

Engum SA, Mitchell MK, Scherer LR, Gomez G, Jacobson L, Solotkin K, et al. Prehospital triage in the injured pediatric patient. J Pediatr Surg. 2000;35(1):82-7.

Cooper RJ, Schriger DL, Flaherty HL, Lin EJ, Hubbell KA. Effect of vital signs on triage decisions. Ann Emerg Med. 2002;39(3):223-32.

Sprung CL, Geber D, Eidelman LA, Baras M, Pizov R, Nimrod A, et al. Evaluation of triage decisions for intensive care admission. Crit Care Med. 1999;27(6):1073-9.

Rehn M, Eken T, Krüger A, Steen P, Skaga N, Lossius H. Precision of field triage in patients brought to a trauma centre after introducing trauma team activation guidelines. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2009;17(1):1-10.

Atkin C, Freedman I, Rosenfeld JV, Fitzgerald M, Kossmann T. The evolution of an integrated State Trauma System in Victoria, Australia. Injury. 2005;36(11):1277-87.

Mullins RJ, Mann NC, Hedges JR, Worrall W, Jurkovich GJ. Preferential benefit of implementation of a Statewide Trauma System in one of two adjacent states. J Trauma. 1998;44(4):609-17.

Campbell NR, McKay DW, Chockalingam A, Fodor JG. Errors in assessment of blood pressure: blood pressure measuring technique. Can J Public Health. 1994;85 Suppl 2:S18-21.

Baker R, Ende J. Confounders of auscultatory blood pressure measurement. J Gen Intern Med. 1995;10(4):223-31.

Bailey RH, Bauer JH. A review of common errors in the indirect measurement of blood pressure. Sphygmomanometry. Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(24):2741-8.

Campbell NR, McKay DW, Chockalingam A, Fodor JG. Errors in assessment of blood pressure: Patient factors. Can J Public Health. 1994;85 Suppl 2:S12-7.

Campbell NR, McKay DW, Chockalingam A, Fodor JG. Errors in assessment of blood pressure: Sphygmomanometers and blood pressure cuffs. Can J Public Health. 1994;85 Suppl 2:S22-5.

Gosse P, Bougaleb M, Egloff P, Lemetayer P, Clementy J. Clinical significance of white-coat hypertension. J Hypertens. 1994;12:43-8.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Australasian College of Paramedicine © 2020                           ISSN: 2202-7270


Crossref Member Badge