The accurate interpretation of breath sounds in the prehospital setting is an important skill for paramedics as it ultimately may determine the patient’s initial and ongoing management. These sounds may include normal breath sounds and abnormal breath sounds such as stridor, inspiratory/expiratory wheeze, fine crackles, and coarse crackles. Only one previous prehospital study investigating paramedic’s ability to accurately determine the various breath sounds was located. The objective of this study was to determine if undergraduate paramedic students were able to accurately interpret a variety of breath sounds.Methods
A prospective single-blinded observational pilot study using a convenience sample of undergraduate paramedic students to identify six different recorded breath sounds.Results
The results demonstrate that Monash University undergraduate paramedic students are not accurate at interpreting a range of high quality recorded breath sounds likely to be heard in the prehospital setting. For sound one (coarse crackles), 20% of students correctly identified this breath sound. Sound two (stridor), 43% of students correctly identified this breath sound. Sound three (wheeze), 51% of students correctly identified this breath sound with 17% stating it was either an inspiratory/expiratory wheeze. Sound four (fine crackles), 6% of students correctly identified this breath sound whilst 14% thought is was a normal breath sound. Sound five (wheeze), 20% of students correctly identified this breath sound, with 49% unsure. Sound six (crackles), 40% of students correctly identified this breath sound with 23% being unsure.Conclusion
This study demonstrates that Monash University undergraduate paramedic students are inaccurate at correctly identifying a variety of recorded breath sounds. The results from this study have provided Monash University paramedic teaching staff with evidence to facilitate change to the part of the curriculum that covers respiratory disorders.