Estimating the burden of alcohol on ambulance callouts through development and validation of an algorithm using electronic patient records

Manca, F., Lewsey, J. , Waterson, R., Kernaghan, S. M., Fitzpatrick, D., Mackay, D. , Angus, C. and Fitzgerald, N. (2021) Estimating the burden of alcohol on ambulance callouts through development and validation of an algorithm using electronic patient records. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(12), 6363. (doi: 10.3390/ijerph18126363) (PMID:34208317)

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Abstract

Background: Alcohol consumption places a significant burden on emergency services, including ambulance services, which often represent patients’ first, and sometimes only, contact with health services. We aimed to (1) improve the assessment of this burden on ambulance services in Scotland using a low-cost and easy to implement algorithm to screen free-text in electronic patient record forms (ePRFs), and (2) present estimates on the burden of alcohol on ambulance callouts in Scotland. Methods: Two paramedics manually reviewed 5416 ePRFs to make a professional judgement of whether they were alcohol-related, establishing a gold standard for assessing our algorithm performance. They also extracted all words or phrases relating to alcohol. An automatic algorithm to identify alcohol-related callouts using free-text in EPRs was developed using these extracts. Results: Our algorithm had a specificity of 0.941 and a sensitivity of 0.996 in detecting alcohol-related callouts. Applying the algorithm to all callout records in Scotland in 2019, we identified 86,780 (16.2%) as alcohol-related. At weekends, this percentage was 18.5%. Conclusions: Alcohol-related callouts constitute a significant burden on the Scottish Ambulance Service. Our algorithm is significantly more sensitive than previous methods used to identify alcohol-related ambulance callouts. This approach and the resulting data have potential for the evaluation of alcohol policy interventions as well as for conducting wider epidemiological research.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mackay, Professor Daniel and Lewsey, Professor Jim and Manca, Mr Francesco
Creator Roles:
Manca, F.Methodology, Formal analysis, Data curation, Writing – original draft, Visualization
Lewsey, J.Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing – review and editing, Supervision
Mackay, D.Conceptualization
Authors: Manca, F., Lewsey, J., Waterson, R., Kernaghan, S. M., Fitzpatrick, D., Mackay, D., Angus, C., and Fitzgerald, N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publisher:MDPI
ISSN:1660-4601
ISSN (Online):1660-4601
Published Online:11 June 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(12): 6363
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
304156MUP EvaluationJames LewseyOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)110508_CSO_HIPS/18/57 IMPHW - Public Health