Accurately estimating a patient’s age (adult or paediatric) is a requirement for all health care clinicians, especially when the patient is unresponsive. Likewise, this ability is critical for paramedics as calculations for paediatric medication dosages, defibrillation, some equipment sizing, and other invasive procedures like intubation, require age as the basis for the calculation. No previous prehospital or nursing studies on paramedic or nursing age estimations were located. The objective of this study was to identify if undergraduate paramedic students were able to accurately estimate a patient’s age.Methods
A prospective single-blinded observational pilot study requiring students to estimate the age of seven patients of varying age using digital images of a complete person.Results
The results demonstrate that undergraduate paramedic and paramedic/nursing students have difficult in accurately estimating a person’s age or at least being within five years either side of the actual adult age. Patients one and two were children, 28% of students correctly estimated the age of patient one, with 26% of students correctly estimating the age of patient two. The remainder were adult patients. No student correctly estimated the age of patient three, only 1% of students correctly estimated the age of patient four, 6% of students correctly estimated the age of patient five, none of the students correctly estimated the age of patient six, and approximately 2% of students correctly estimated the age of patient seven.Conclusion
The results of this pilot study have demonstrated that undergraduate paramedic, paramedic/nursing students, and potentially novice paramedics, lack the ability to accurately estimate the age of a range of patients. The results have provided teaching staff with important information to incorporate into the clinical curriculum.