There are 10 state-run ambulance services in Australia and New Zealand, all of which are members of the Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA). These CAA services use nine unique sets of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to direct the care that their paramedics deliver to patients. Although there are many similarities in these guidelines there are also notable differences in both structure and content. This paper is a comparative analysis of these CAA CPGs that contrasts the differences in organisation and also discusses the similarities and differences between the various CPGs themselves. This comparison was done as a preparatory exercise for the creation of a set of national CPGs by Paramedics Australasia.
The complete set of CPGs were obtained and analysed. All CPGs intended for operational road paramedics were examined. These included extended care paramedic, retrieval and intensive/critical care paramedic CPGs, and first responders. The 10 tables of contents were synthesised into one document and then restructured into a unique taxonomy determined by consensus of the authors. The authors reviewed the taxonomy to ensure the organisation was consistent and logical. Each CPG was then reviewed to ensure that it was appropriately placed in the new taxonomy. The CAA CPGs were further examined for similarities and differences independently by each author according to a predefined list of characteristics.
A new taxonomy for Australasian CPGs is presented with a discussion of various issues of interest that became apparent during the development of the taxonomy. This taxonomy can provide guidance in the creation of a unified set of CPGs that can be used as a reference for developers, educators, clinicians, researchers, managers and industry representatives interested in consulting and developing a clear statement of the scope and standards of Australasian paramedics. The comparative analysis could be of interest to developers of CAA CPGs, and others.
This paper presents a novel taxonomy, or scheme of classification, that incorporates all CAA CPGs in preparation for the development of a uniform set of Australasian CPGs, which will be of use to various individuals and organisations.