Emergency care practitioners’ knowledge, preparedness and experiences of managing COVID-19 in Australia
Dr Cecilia Li1,2, Dr Cristina Sotomayor-Castillo1,2, Dr Shizar Nahidi1,2, Mr Sergey Kuznetsov1, Professor Julie Considine3,4, Professor Kate Curtis2,5,6,7, Professor Margaret Fry8,9, Adjunct Associate Professor Dominic Morgan10, Associate Professor Tony Walker11, Ms Alaine Burgess10, Dr Hamish Carver10, Dr Brian Doyle12, Dr Viet Tran12,13, Dr Kavita Varshney14,15, Professor Ramon Z. Shaban1,2,16,17
1Faculty of Medicine and Health, Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia
2Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia
3Deakin University, Geelong, School of Nursing and Midwifery and Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research in the Institute for Health Transformation, Australia
4Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research – Eastern Health Partnership, Box Hill, Australia
5Emergency Services, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, , Australia
6George Institute for Global Health, , Australia
7Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, Wollongong, Australia
8Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia
9Research and Practice Development Nursing and Midwifery Directorate, Northern Sydney Local Health District, Royal North Shore Hospital, Kolling Building, St Leonards, Australia
10NSW Ambulance, Rozelle, Australia
11Ambulance Victoria, Doncaster, Australia
12Emergency Department, Royal Hobart Hospital, Australia
13School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, Australia
14Emergency Department, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, Australia
15Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia
16Division of Infectious Diseases and Sexual Health, Westmead Hospital and Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, Australia
17New South Wales Biocontainment Centre, Western Sydney Local Health District and New South Wales Health, Australia
Introduction: Emergency care practitioners play a crucial role during public health emergencies and have been at the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study examines the knowledge, preparedness and experiences of emergency nurses, emergency physicians and paramedics in managing COVID-19 in Australian healthcare settings.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of members of College of Emergency Nursing Australasia, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, and the Australasian College of Paramedicine was conducted. Participants were invited to participate in an online survey (June-September 2020) which explored their knowledge, preparedness and experiences in relation to COVID-19. Descriptive statistics were calculated using SPSS Statistics. Conventional content analysis technique was used to analyse text data.
Results: This study included 159 responses from emergency nurses, 110 responses from emergency physicians and 161 responses from paramedics. Most respondents across the three groups (30-50%) indicated that their knowledge of COVID-19 was ‘good to very good’. The majority (80%) indicated that they were ‘moderately to extremely prepared’. At least 70-90% of respondents in each group received COVID-19 specific training and education, including PPE usage, with a majority indicating that the training was ‘mostly adequate’. One-third of paramedics reported that their workload ‘had lessened’ while 40% of emergency nurses and physicians stated that their workload had ‘considerably increased’. Common concerns raised included lack of staffing, public complacency, stress/anxiety due to increased workload, changing guidelines and information, and PPE availability.
Conclusion: Regular communications, extensive COVID-19 training and education, and adequate support enabled emergency care practitioners to feel prepared to manage COVID-19 patients.
Dr Li is an early career research fellow. Her research interests include infectious diseases, infection prevention and control, healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial resistance, outbreak management.