“Are we Progressing to Progress, or are we Progressing for the Patient?”

“Are We Progressing to Progress, or Are We Progressing For The Patient?”


While in Ireland, my wife allowed me to seek out fellow paramedics, and I am very appreciative of this sacrifice.  Because we walked several miles from our quaint little hotel in the rain and cold to find one. However, we were able to locate a paramedic without having to call 999, sorry, but had to insert that for the sake of humor. 

We eventually found ambulances outside of the emergency department but did not want to get in anyone's way, so we waited until they were all cleaned up and ready to leave. Fortunately, before they left, a man in a high visibility jacket and professional attire walked out of the building and warmly greeted us. I introduced myself, and of course, in Irish fashion, he was polite and gave me a chance to chat (and even took a photo with me to prove it).

The man, an Advanced Practice Paramedic with over a dozen years of experience in the field, provided me with loads of information. However, I think the most pragmatic was his notion concerning advancements in technology as they relate to patient care. In so many words, "are we progressing to progress, or are we progressing for the patient"? His quote is quite profound, and his sentiments are precisely mine.

With all of the advancements in healthcare and fancy gadgets, are we genuinely benefiting patients?

Is the use of technology benefiting patients or benefiting our egos? He concedes many of these advancements are lovely but must be applied practically. The rationale; our role as paramedics and EMS professionals is to deliver quality and emergent care to patients, so is this trend in technological advancements actually better or just because. Please do not misconstrue my words. Technology is critical, but we must think of it practically, and that is all I believe he is saying, and I wholeheartedly agree.

In conclusion, I do not believe there is a hard answer, and much of this can be argued based on where one practices and what environment the paramedic works. For instance, HEMS paramedics may see more applicability for point of care ultrasound than a street paramedic. The same goes for out of hospital lab values and any other technology you can think of. In the end, we must be diligent about our use of technology and be sure the research shows benefits to the patient, first and foremost.

Thanks mate - I look forward to chatting again shortly.  Be safe out there.