Friday, May 03, 2024

EMS Particular Patient Populations - Patients With Sensory Disabilities

EMS providers should be prepared to effectively communicate with and provide care for patients with sensory disabilities, including those who are blind, deaf, or have other sensory impairments.

Here are some important considerations:

  1. Communication:

    • For patients who are blind or have low vision, use verbal descriptions to provide information about surroundings, procedures, and actions being taken.
    • For patients who are deaf or hard of hearing, use clear and simple gestures, facial expressions, and written communication when possible.
    • Use communication aids and assistive devices, such as communication boards, text-to-speech apps, or sign language interpreters, as needed to facilitate effective communication.
  2. Respect & Dignity:

    • Treat patients with sensory disabilities with respect, dignity, and sensitivity to their individual needs and preferences.
    • Avoid making assumptions about a patient's capabilities or independence based on their sensory disability.
  3. Assessment & History Taking:

    • Gather information about the patient's medical history, allergies, medications, and any specific needs related to their sensory disability.
    • Adapt assessment techniques to accommodate the patient's sensory disability, such as using alternative methods to assess vital signs or perform physical examinations.
  4. Safety Considerations:

    • Ensure the safety of patients with sensory disabilities during the assessment, treatment, and transport process.
    • Provide clear instructions and guidance to assist the patient in moving safely, particularly if they have mobility impairments in addition to sensory disabilities.
  5. Environment:

    • Create a calm and comfortable environment for patients with sensory disabilities, minimizing unnecessary noise, distractions, and bright lights.
    • Consider the patient's sensory preferences and sensitivities when selecting a location for assessment and treatment.
  6. Collaboration & Advocacy:

    • Collaborate with family members, caregivers, or companions who may assist in communication or provide important information about the patient's needs and preferences.
    • Advocate for the patient's rights and access to appropriate accommodations, such as sign language interpreters or accessible medical equipment.
  7. Training & Education:

    • Receive training on interacting with patients with sensory disabilities, including communication techniques, cultural competence, and disability awareness.
    • Stay informed about available resources, assistive technologies, and support services for patients with sensory disabilities in your community.

By being proactive, compassionate, and attentive to the unique needs of patients with sensory disabilities, EMS providers can ensure that these individuals receive high-quality care and support during emergency situations.

Further Reading:

Alexander, M. & Belle, R. (2017) Advanced EMT: A Clinical Reasoning Approach (2nd Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Bledsoe, B. E., Cherry, R. A. & Porter, R. S (2023) Paramedic Care: Principles and Practice (6th Ed) Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson

Mistovich, J. J. & Karren, K. J. (2014) Prehospital Emergency Care (11th Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Peate, I. & Sawyer, S (2024) Fundamentals of Applied Pathophysiology for Paramedics. Hoboken, New Jersey:  Wiley Blackwell

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