Publications by authors named "Jeffrey M Franc"

9 Publications

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Impact of Point-of-Care Ultrasound on Secondary Triage: A Pilot Study.

Disaster Med Public Health Prep 2022 Apr 1:1-4. Epub 2022 Apr 1.

ATS Milan, Italy.

Objectives: In mass casualty scenarios, patients with apparent hemodynamic and respiratory stability might have occult life-threatening injuries. These patients could benefit from more accurate triage methods. This study assessed the impact of point-of-care ultrasound on the accuracy of secondary triage conducted at an advanced medical post to enhance the detection of patients who, despite their apparent clinically stable condition, could benefit from earlier evacuation to definitive care or immediate life-saving treatment.

Methods: A mass casualty simulated event consisting of a bomb blast in a remote area was conducted with 10 simulated casualties classified as YELLOW at the primary triage scene; patients were evaluated by 4 physicians at an advanced medical post. Three patients had, respectively, hemoperitoneum, pneumothorax, and hemothorax. Only 2 physicians had sonographic information.

Results: All 4 physicians were able to suspect hemoperitoneum as a possible critical condition to be managed first, but only physicians with additional sonographic information accurately detected pneumothorax and hemothorax, thus deciding to immediately evacuate or treat.
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April 2022

METASTART: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Diagnostic Accuracy of the Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) Algorithm for Disaster Triage.

Prehosp Disaster Med 2022 Feb 17;37(1):106-116. Epub 2021 Dec 17.

Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Introduction: The goal of disaster triage at both the prehospital and in-hospital level is to maximize resources and optimize patient outcomes. Of the disaster-specific triage methods developed to guide health care providers, the Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) algorithm has become the most popular system world-wide. Despite its appeal and global application, the accuracy and effectiveness of the START protocol is not well-known.

Objectives: The purpose of this meta-analysis was two-fold: (1) to estimate overall accuracy, under-triage, and over-triage of the START method when used by providers across a variety of backgrounds; and (2) to obtain specific accuracy for each of the four START categories: red, yellow, green, and black.

Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted that searched Medline (OVID), Embase (OVID), Global Health (OVID), CINAHL (EBSCO), Compendex (Engineering Village), SCOPUS, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, Cochrane Library, and PROSPERO. The results were expanded by hand searching of journals, reference lists, and the grey literature. The search was executed in March 2020. The review considered the participants, interventions, context, and outcome (PICO) framework and followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Accuracy outcomes are presented as means with 95% confidence intervals (CI) as calculated using the binomial method. Pooled meta-analyses of accuracy outcomes using fixed and random effects models were calculated and the heterogeneity was assessed using the Q statistic.

Results: Thirty-two studies were included in the review, most of which utilized a non-randomized study design (84%). Proportion of victims correctly triaged using START ranged from 0.27 to 0.99 with an overall triage accuracy of 0.73 (95% CI, 0.67 to 0.78). Proportion of over-triage was 0.14 (95% CI, 0.11 to 0.17) while the proportion of under-triage was 0.10 (95% CI, 0.072 to 0.14). There was significant heterogeneity of the studies for all outcomes (P < .0001).

Conclusion: This meta-analysis suggests that START is not accurate enough to serve as a reliable disaster triage tool. Although the accuracy of START may be similar to other models of disaster triage, development of a more accurate triage method should be urgently pursued.
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February 2022

Tourniquet application by schoolchildren-a randomized crossover study of three commercially available models.

J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2021 04;90(4):666-672

From the Faculty of Medicine (A.E.B., F.M., L.L.-H.), Université de Montreal; Pediatric Emergency Medicine (E.K.), Montreal Children's Hospital, Montreal, Quebec; Faculty of Medicine (J.M.F.), University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta; and Adult Emergency Medicine (V.H.), McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Background: Life-threatening hemorrhage is a major cause of preventable mortality in trauma. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of commercial tourniquets when used by adult civilians. However, there are no data about tourniquet application by children.This study's goal is to determine which of three commercially available tourniquets is most effective when used by children.

Methods: A randomized crossover study was conducted in four elementary schools in Montreal to compare three commercially available tourniquets. The study population is primary school children aged 10 to 12 years (5th-6th grade). A total of 181 students were invited to participate; 96 obtained parental approval and were recruited. Participants underwent a short 7-minute video training on the use of three commercial tourniquets and were subsequently given a 2-minute practice period. Students were evaluated on their ability to successfully apply the tourniquet and the time to complete application. After applying all three tourniquets, the students selected their favorite model. The primary outcome is the proportion of successful applications per tourniquet model. Secondary outcomes include time to successful application for each tourniquet model and tourniquet model preference.

Results: The mechanical advantage tourniquet (MAT) outperformed the combat application tourniquet (CAT) and the stretch wrap and tuck tourniquet (SWATT) in terms of success rate (MAT, 67%; CAT, 44%; SWATT, 24%; p < 0.0001), time to application (MAT, 57 seconds; CAT, 80 seconds; SWATT, 90 seconds; p < 0.0001), and preference (MAT, 64%; CAT, 30%; SWATT, 6%; p < 0.0001).

Conclusion: In this study, the MAT performs better in terms of success rate, time to application, and preference when used by school-aged children. This study can be helpful when facilities are purchasing tourniquets for use by students.
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April 2021

COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspective From Italian Pediatric Emergency Physicians.

Disaster Med Public Health Prep 2020 10 22;14(5):648-651. Epub 2020 Jun 22.

CRIMEDIM - Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy.

Objectives: To document the lived experience of Italian pediatric emergency physicians during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Methods: We developed a structured interview to collect the lived experience of the staff of the pediatric emergency department (PED) of a tertiary referral university hospital in Northern Italy. The open-ended questions were draft according to the suggestions of Canadian colleagues and administered by 1 interviewer, who was part of the PED staff, at the end of March 2020. All the PED staff was interviewed, on a voluntary basis, using purposive sampling.

Results: Most respondents declared to be afraid of becoming infected and of infecting their families. The number of patients seen in the PED has decreased, and the cases tend to be more severe. A shift in the clinical approach to the ill child has occurred, the physical examination is problem-oriented, aiming to avoid un-necessary maneuvers and to minimize the number of practitioners involved. The most challenging aspects reported are: (1) performing a physical examination in personal protective equipment (PPE), (2) being updated with rapidly evolving guidelines, and (3) staying focused on the possible COVID-19 clinical presentation without failing in differential diagnosis.

Conclusions: During the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that pediatric emergency physicians are radically changing their clinical practice, aiming at prioritizing essential interventions and maneuvers and self-protection.
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October 2020

Comparing Resource Management Skills in a High- versus Low-Resource Simulation Scenario: A Pilot Study.

Prehosp Disaster Med 2020 Feb 6;35(1):83-87. Epub 2019 Dec 6.

CRIMEDIM - Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy.

Background: Low-resource environments, such as those found in humanitarian crises, pose significant challenges to the provision of proper medical treatment. While the lack of training of health providers to such settings has been well-acknowledged in literature, there has yet to be any scientific evidence for this phenomenon.

Methods: This pilot study utilized a randomized crossover experimental design to examine the effects of high- versus low-resource simulated scenarios of a resuscitation of a critically ill obstetric patient on a medical doctors' performance and inter-personal skills. Ten senior residents (fifth-year post-graduate) of the Maggiore Hospital School of Medicine (Novara, NO, Italy) were included in the study.

Results: Overall performance score for the high-resource setting was 5.2, as opposed to only 2.3 for the low-resource setting. The mean effect size for the overall score was 2.9 (95% CI, 1.7-4.0; P <.001). The results suggest a significant decrease in both technical (medical) and non-technical skills, such as leadership, problem solving, situation awareness, resource utilization, and communication in the low-resource environment setting. The latter finding is of special important since it was yet to be reported.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that untrained physicians in low-resource environments may experience a considerable setback not only to their professional performance, but also to their interpersonal skills, when deployed ill-prepared to humanitarian missions. Consequently, this may endanger the health of local populations.
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February 2020

A Randomized Trial Comparing Telephone Tree, Text Messaging, and Instant Messaging App for Emergency Department Staff Recall for Disaster Response.

Prehosp Disaster Med 2018 Oct;33(5):471-477

4University of Alberta,Edmonton,Alberta,Canada.

IntroductionA crucial component of a hospital's disaster plan is an efficient staff recall communication method. Many hospitals use a "calling tree" protocol to contact staff members and recall them to work. Alternative staff recall methods have been proposed and explored.

Methods: An unannounced, multidisciplinary, randomized emergency department (ED) staff recall drill was conducted at night - when there is the greatest need for back-up personnel and staff is most difficult to reach. The drill was performed on December 14, 2017 at 4:00am and involved ED staff members from three hospitals which are all part of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC; Montreal, Quebec, Canada). Three tools were compared: manual phone tree, instant messaging application (IMA), and custom-made hospital Short Message Service (SMS) system. The key outcome measures were proportion of responses at 45 minutes and median response time.

Results: One-hundred thirty-two participants were recruited. There were 44 participants in each group after randomization. In the manual phone tree group, 18 (41%) responded within 45 minutes. In the IMA group, 11 participants (25%) responded in the first 45 minutes. In the SMS group, seven participants responded in the first 45 minutes (16%). Manual phone tree was significantly better than SMS with an effect size of 25% (95% confidence interval for effect: 4.6% to 45.0%; P=.018). Conversely, there was no significant difference between manual phone tree and IMA with an effect size of 16% (95% confidence interval for effect: -5.7% to 38.0%; P=.17) There was a statistically significant difference in the median response time between the three groups with the phone tree group presenting the lowest median response time (8.5 minutes; range: 2.0 to 8.5 minutes; P=.000006).

Conclusion: Both the phone tree and IMA groups had a significantly higher response rate than the SMS group. There was no significant difference between the proportion of responses at 45 minutes in the phone tree and the IMA arms. This study suggests that an IMA may be a viable alternative to the traditional phone tree method. Limitations of the study include volunteer bias and the fact that there was only one communication drill, which did not allow staff members randomized to the IMA and SMS groups to fully get familiar with the new staff recall methods. HomierV, HamadR, LarocqueJ, ChasséP, KhalilE, FrancJM. A randomized trial comparing telephone tree, text messaging, and instant messaging app for emergency department staff recall for disaster response. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2018;33(5):471-477.
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October 2018

A pilot study examining the speed and accuracy of triage for simulated disaster patients in an emergency department setting: Comparison of a computerized version of Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS) and Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) methods.

CJEM 2017 Sep 28;19(5):364-371. Epub 2016 Oct 28.

†Department of Emergency Medicine,University of Alberta and Translational Medicine,Universita' Degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale,Vercelli,Italy.

Objective: To compare emergency department triage nurses' time to triage and accuracy of a simulated mass casualty incident (MCI) population using a computerized version of CTAS or START systems.

Methods: This pilot study was a prospective trial using a convenience sample. A total of 20 ED triage nurses, 10 in each arm of the study, were recruited. The paper-based questionnaire contained nine simulated MCI vignettes. An expert panel arrived at consensuses on the wording of the vignettes and created a standard triage score from which to compare the study participants. Linear regression and chi-squared test were used to examine the time to triage and accuracy of triage, respectively.

Results: The mean triage time for computerized CTAS (cCTAS) and START were 138 seconds/patient and 33 seconds/patient, respectively. The effect size due to triage method was 108 seconds/patient (95% CI 83-134 seconds/patient). The cumulative triage accuracy for the cCTAS and START tools were 70/90 (77.8%) and 65/90 (72.2%), respectively. The percent difference between cumulative triage was 6% (95% CI -19-8%).

Conclusions: Triage nurses completed START triage 105 seconds/patient faster when compared to cCTAS triage and a similar level of accuracy between the two methods was achieved. However, when the typing time is taken into consideration cCTAS took 45 seconds/patient longer. The use of either CTAS or START in the ED during a MCI may be reasonable but choosing one method over another is not justified from this investigation.
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September 2017

First Responder Accuracy Using SALT during Mass-casualty Incident Simulation.

Prehosp Disaster Med 2016 Apr 9;31(2):150-4. Epub 2016 Feb 9.

1Division of Emergency Medicine,Department of Medicine,Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry,Western University,London,Ontario,Canada.

Introduction: During mass-casualty incidents (MCIs), patient volume often overwhelms available Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel. First responders are expected to triage, treat, and transport patients in a timely fashion. If other responders could triage accurately, prehospital EMS resources could be focused more directly on patients that require immediate medical attention and transport.

Hypothesis: Triage accuracy, error patterns, and time to triage completion are similar between second-year primary care paramedic (PCP) and fire science (FS) students participating in a simulated MCI using the Sort, Assess, Life-saving interventions, Treatment/Transport (SALT) triage algorithm.

Methods: All students in the second-year PCP program and FS program at two separate community colleges were invited to participate in this study. Immediately following a 30-minute didactic session on SALT, participants were given a standardized briefing and asked to triage an eight-victim, mock MCI using SALT. The scenario consisted of a four-car motor vehicle collision with each victim portrayed by volunteer actors given appropriate moulage and symptom coaching for their pattern of injury. The total number and acuity of victims were unknown to participants prior to arrival to the mock scenario.

Results: Thirty-eight PCP and 29 FS students completed the simulation. Overall triage accuracy was 79.9% for PCP and 72.0% for FS (∆ 7.9%; 95% CI, 1.2-14.7) students. No significant difference was found between the groups regarding types of triage errors. Over-triage, under-triage, and critical errors occurred in 10.2%, 7.6%, and 2.3% of PCP triage assignments, respectively. Fire science students had a similar pattern with 15.2% over-triaged, 8.7% under-triaged, and 4.3% critical errors. The median [IQR] time to triage completion for PCPs and FSs were 142.1 [52.6] seconds and 159.0 [40.5] seconds, respectively (P=.19; Mann-Whitney Test).

Conclusions: Primary care paramedics performed MCI triage more accurately than FS students after brief SALT training, but no difference was found regarding types of error or time to triage completion. The clinical importance of this difference in triage accuracy likely is minimal, suggesting that fire services personnel could be considered for MCI triage depending on the availability of prehospital medical resources and appropriate training.
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April 2016

Impact of a Two-step Emergency Department Triage Model with START, then CTAS, on Patient Flow During a Simulated Mass-casualty Incident.

Prehosp Disaster Med 2015 Aug;30(4):390-6

Introduction: A high influx of patients during a mass-casualty incident (MCI) may disrupt patient flow in an already overcrowded emergency department (ED) that is functioning beyond its operating capacity. This pilot study examined the impact of a two-step ED triage model using Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) for pre-triage, followed by triage with the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS), on patient flow during a MCI simulation exercise. Hypothesis/Problem It was hypothesized that there would be no difference in time intervals nor patient volumes at each patient-flow milestone.

Methods: Physicians and nurses participated in a computer-based tabletop disaster simulation exercise. Physicians were randomized into the intervention group using START, then CTAS, or the control group using START alone. Patient-flow milestones including time intervals and patient volumes from ED arrival to triage, ED arrival to bed assignment, ED arrival to physician assessment, and ED arrival to disposition decision were compared. Triage accuracy was compared for secondary purposes.

Results: There were no significant differences in the time interval from ED arrival to triage (mean difference 108 seconds; 95% CI, -353 to 596 seconds; P=1.0), ED arrival to bed assignment (mean difference 362 seconds; 95% CI, -1,269 to 545 seconds; P=1.0), ED arrival to physician assessment (mean difference 31 seconds; 95% CI, -1,104 to 348 seconds; P=0.92), and ED arrival to disposition decision (mean difference 175 seconds; 95% CI, -1,650 to 1,300 seconds; P=1.0) between the two groups. There were no significant differences in the volume of patients to be triaged (32% vs 34%; 95% CI for the difference -16% to 21%; P=1.0), assigned a bed (16% vs 21%; 95% CI for the difference -11% to 20%; P=1.0), assessed by a physician (20% vs 22%; 95% CI for the difference -14% to 19%; P=1.0), and with a disposition decision (20% vs 9%; 95% CI for the difference -25% to 4%; P=.34) between the two groups. The accuracy of triage was similar in both groups (57% vs 70%; 95% CI for the difference -15% to 41%; P=.46).

Conclusion: Experienced triage nurses were able to apply CTAS effectively during a MCI simulation exercise. A two-step ED triage model using START, then CTAS, had similar patient flow and triage accuracy when compared to START alone.
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August 2015