Holistic health assessment and healthcare involves considering that the patient has Physical, Psychological and Social needs. As a Paramedic dealing with a patient’s physical illness has been a regular occurrence, either through physical damage to the body from trauma or disease, or minor illness or injury. Although the options have been limited to transporting the patient to an accident & Emergency department the physical problem in this sense is looked after.
The social requirements of a patient or the patient’s family are rarely considered and if a social problem is recognised then generally they are advised to speak to their GP.
Psychological and mental health issues have always presented a problem to me and my colleagues within the ambulance service. There is a lack of training regarding mental health, either in recognising it or in managing a patient with a longstanding problem. Many patients I come into contact with suffering from mental health problems are persistent self harm patients. These patients present with a physical injury for which they are taken to hospital, however the underlying cause, and the mental health problem is overlooked. For paramedics there is no option available but to take a patient with a mental health crisis to an A&E department, knowing that it is inappropriate.
Has the Emergency Care Practitioner course and the introduction of ECP’s changed my management of these patients?
Patients that are mentally ill have always worried me. I have always been very conscious of what I am actually saying to these patients, concerned that I might say the wrong thing, offend them or make an idiot of myself by demonstrating my lack of knowledge or training in this area. Journeys to hospital have entailed long periods of awkward silence, a patient not willing to talk, and me unsure what to say or how to say it. This must appear unprofessional to the patient, making their treatment experience...