Jennifer Bolster has just had her scoping review related to the paramedic role in substance use accepted for publication in Paramedicine. She completed this as part of her Honour’s degree in Paramedicine at Monash University, which I supervised. This is a fantastic contribution to the literature, and I look forward to working with Jen on continued research in this space. Well done Jen!

You can download the published version below

Abstract

Introduction: As the paramedic profession continues to grow and evolve, a shift from purely reactive to holistic patient care models is required. As the first and often the only point of medical contact for many patients from marginalized and under-served populations, the paramedic role, and its potential future implications in caring for these patients needs to be explored. Aim: The objective of this scoping review was to explore the paramedic’s role in caring for people who use illicit and controlled drugs. Methods: A scoping review of English language literature published since 2002 was conducted using CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Google Scholar. We used a previously published paramedic search term filter for sensitivity combined with search terms related to illicit and controlled drug use and addiction. Studies were selected based on relevance to the research question. Results: A total of 104 peer-reviewed and 14 grey literature articles were selected for inclusion. The main finding of this scoping review is the notable lack of evidence base surrounding the contemporary paramedic role in the care provision of people who use drugs. The results highlight high rates of mortality following a paramedic-attended drug poisoning event, presenting a unique opportunity for paramedics to intervene in meaningful ways that extend past traditional drug poisoning response. Conclusions: The interface between the community of people who use drugs and the paramedic may be a highly influential encounter during a patient’s journey through the healthcare system. The evolving role of the paramedic in this encounter requires focused study and should be viewed as a research priority in response to the ongoing drug poisoning crisis.