Online medical control and initial refusal of care: Does it help to talk with the patient?

B. T. Hoyt, R. L. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The use of online medical control (OLMC) for initial refusal of care is time-consuming and has medical-legal risks. Objectives: This study attempted to answer the following: Does physician-patient communication (PPC) increase the rate of transport and at what cost in terms of increased physician time? Do altered mental status (AMS) patients agree to transport more frequently and do they require more physician time? Can senior emergency medicine resident (RES) and emergency medicine faculty (FAC) physicians be equally efficient in handling refusal calls? Methods: The study evaluated a retrospective cohort for six months at a single base station, university hospital. Online medical control audiotapes and written records of radio and telephone communications were reviewed. Results: One hundred forty-seven refusal cases were analyzed, PPC was used 70 times, and 37 patients were transported. Twenty-four of 70 (34%) patients with PPC agreed to be transported, while ten of 77 (13%) patients without PPC agreed to be transported (p = 0.002). Sixteen of 30 (53%) patients with AMS were transported compared with 21 of 117 (18%) patients with normal mental status (p = 0.00007). Call times were longer with PPC utilization [406.3 sec PPC vs 230.1 sec no PPC (p < 0.001)] and with AMS patients [411.2 sec AMS vs 289.1 sec no AMS (p = 0.028)]. The RES and FAC physicians did not differ in transport rates [21% RES vs 26% FAC (p = 0.612)] and call times [329.4 sec RES vs 310.4 sec FAC (p = 0.659)]. Conclusions: Although time-consuming, the use of PPC is associated with more patients' agreeing to be transported. Patients with AMS are transported more frequently and they use more physician time. Emergency medicine RES and FAC physicians have equal efficiency and efficacy in handling these calls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-730
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Emergency medical communications
  • Emergency medical services
  • Online medical control
  • Physician's role
  • Refusal of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Online medical control and initial refusal of care: Does it help to talk with the patient?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this