Mobile phone use for contacting emergency services in life-threatening circumstances
Background: The potential health benefits of mobile phone use have not been widely studied, except for telemedicine-type applications. Study Objectives: This study seeks to determine whether initial contact with emergency services via a mobile phone in life-threatening situations is associated with potential health benefits when compared to contact via a landline. Methods: A record-linkage study was carried out in which data from all emergency dispatches for immediately life-threatening events from a United Kingdom county ambulance service were linked to the Patient Admission System at two major local hospitals. Mortality (at the scene, at the emergency department [ED], and during hospitalization); transfer to the ED; admission (inpatient care, and intensive care unit); and length of stay were analyzed for calls classified as Code Red (immediately life-threatening) by initial exposure (mobile phone vs. landline), while controlling for potential confounding variables. Results: Of 354,199 ambulances dispatched to attend emergency incidents, 66% transported patients to the hospital while 2% stood down due to death at the scene. Mobile phone compared to landline reporting of emergencies resulted in significant reductions in the risk of death at the scene (odds ratio [OR] 0.77), but not for death in the ED or during inpatient admission. The risk of being transferred to the ED and subsequent inpatient admission were significantly lower with reporting from mobile phones compared to landline (OR 0.93 and OR 0.82, respectively). Conclusions: In this study, evidence of statistical association was demonstrated between the use of mobile phones to alert ambulance services in life-threatening situations and improved outcomes for patients. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.