Paramedics accurately apply the pediatric assessment triangle to drive management

Marianne Gausche-Hill, Marc Eckstein, Timothy Horeczko, Nancy McGrath, Aileen Kurobe, Linda Ullum, Amy H. Kaji, Roger J. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective. To provide an evaluation of the Pediatric Assessment Triangle (PAT) as an assessment tool for use by paramedic providers in the prehospital care of pediatric patients.

Methods. Paramedics from Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) received training in the Pediatric Education for Prehospital Professionals (PEPP) course, PAT study procedures, and completed training in applying the PAT to assess children 0-14 years of age. A convenience sample of LAFD paramedic assessments of the pediatric patients transported to 29 participating institutions, over an 18-month period ending July 2010, were eligible for inclusion. Patients who were not transported were excluded from the study, as were the assessments of children with special health-care needs (CSHCN). PAT Study Forms, emergency medical services (EMS) report forms, and emergency department (ED) and hospital charts were entered into a secure database. Two study investigators, blinded to paramedic PAT assessment, reviewed hospital charts and determined the category of illness or injury.

Results. A total of 1,552 PAT Study Forms were collected. Overall, 1,168 of the patient (75%) assessments met inclusion criteria, were transported, and had all three data points (PAT Study Form, paramedic EMS report form, and ED/hospital chart) available for analysis. When paramedics used the PAT to identify abnormalities in the three arms of the triangle (PAT Paramedic Pattern) and applied that pattern to form a general impression (PAT Paramedic Impression), the agreement resulted in a κ coefficient of 0.93 [95% CI: 0.91-0.95]. The PAT paramedic impression was congruent with field management, as the majority of patients received consistent interventions with local EMS protocols. The PAT Paramedic Impression for instability demonstrated a sensitivity of 77.4% [95% CI: 72.6-81.5%], a specificity of 90.0% [95% CI: 87.1-91.5%] with a positive likelihood ratio (LR+) of 7.7 [95% CI: 5.9-9.1] and a negative likelihood ratio (LR-) of 0.3 [95% CI: 0.2-0.3].

Conclusion. The PAT is a rapid assessment tool that can be readily and reliably used by paramedics in the prehospital setting. The PAT should be used in conjunction with other assessments but can safely drive initial field management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-530
Number of pages11
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2014


  • Paramedics, assessment
  • Pediatric Assessment Triangle
  • Prehospital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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