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Identifying and Treating Unconscious Patients: The Tough Challenges for First Responders and a Solution

Identifying and treating unconscious patients comes with many challenges for first responders. A solution has finally arrived.

Key takeaways:

  • The unconscious state is a time-sensitive medical emergency.
  • Early diagnosis and stabilization are essential for the best outcome.
  • An unconscious or non-communicative person presents several problems for first responders.
  • ERinfoPro’s face recognition technology provides life-saving results. 

Car accidents, insulin issues, overdoses, natural disasters, and other types of accidents occur every day. Emergency rooms and first responders see more than one million patients each year, many of which are unconscious and unable to identify themselves. This presents several challenges to first responders. 

There are many possible causes for a patient’s unconsciousness, and each requires quick, skilled action to prevent a tragedy. The situation is further complicated if it is in a pre-hospital setting where little to no information on what caused the unconscious state is available.

Not being able to identify a patient causes a considerable delay in treatment. Factors such as illnesses, allergies, and pre-existing conditions dictate how a patient is treated and make identification vital. Fortunately, there is a new app that can help.

Here is a rundown of how patients become unconscious, why quick treatment is imperative, the problems missing identification can cause, and how the ERinfoPro app can save lives. 

Causes of patient unconsciousness

One of the biggest challenges first responders face in the field is determining who an unconscious person is. When there is no information present (no alert identifier, ID, etc.), the patient remains unidentified, and so does his/her medical history, allergies, pre-existing conditions, and more.  

There are myriad reasons a person might become unconscious or non-communicative. Some of the most common instances of unconsciousness seen in the field are:

  • Insulin issues

Hypoglycemia can render a patient unconscious if they have taken too much insulin. Usually, this happens by accident, but it can be intentional. Diabetic patients must take their medications on a specific schedule. Not following the schedule can cause serious health issues, including unconsciousness. 

  • Infection

Infections present subtly but can cause someone to lose consciousness if they are left untreated and become serious. Tachypnea, tachycardia, and febrile skin may be present in an infected patient, as could open wounds or infected injuries.

  • Trauma

Specific injuries aren’t always clear in either blunt or penetrating trauma cases, especially in a pre-hospital setting. Recognizing the accompanying issues that contribute to unconsciousness such as hypovolemia from internal and/or external hemorrhage, massive chest injuries, injury to the central nervous system, and organ fissure is vital. 

  • Acute alcohol intoxication

Alcohol intoxication is relatively easy to detect but can still pose a challenge to first responders. Everyone responds to alcohol differently. One person can consume a drastically smaller amount than someone else and still be unconscious. Binge drinking is often responsible in these cases.

  • Drug overdose

Overdosing can happen with street drugs like heroin, over-the-counter medicines, or prescription medications. Channels of ingestion and forms of each drug vary. The most common channels of ingestion are smoking, intravenous, nasal, and oral. Drugs can take the form of powders, liquids, pills, and even pastes when combined with other substances. It isn’t always possible to know which drugs the patient has used in an ambulatory setting. 

  • Neurological issues

Neurological issues, such as an acute stroke, can cause unconsciousness and are not always immediately recognizable. Signs of a stroke will vary according to the location and nature of the stroke.

  • Psychiatric issues

Psychiatric disorders are some of the most challenging issues for first responders to determine in an unconscious situation. There are innumerable outlying factors that have a huge impact on the treatment plan such as substance abuse, head trauma, and existing medical conditions.

Immediate treatment matters

There are some instances in which immediate treatment is not necessary, but unconscious patients are not one of them. The state of unconsciousness assumes something is wrong. A common ailment could be the cause, but it could also be something life-threatening with only minutes to treat. 

Serious challenges for first responders occur without patient identification

Every piece of information is vital to a first responder. They must gather as much data about their patient as possible to determine a proper and effective treatment plan. 

An unconscious patient can’t tell you if they are taking medications. First responders can’t administer anything without knowing if an existing medication will cause a reaction. The patient may have an allergy or a pre-existing condition. All of these things have a big impact on the type and urgency of treatment. 

ERinfoPro for FirstNet®: Technology that saves lives

There is no other solution to help first responders establish unconscious patients’ identities that is as fast and effective as ERinfoPro. 

ERinfoPro uses face recognition technology to identify victims of accidents, mass casualties, and natural disasters so first responders can immediately access their current medical conditions, medications, identifying features, and emergency contacts. 

Emergency contacts are notified in real-time, at the scene. It is the only “anytime, anywhere” emergency contact and victim identification system available. It’s been thoroughly vetted and deemed a dependable public safety tool. Using ERinfoPro also helps to significantly reduce errors and improve outcomes. 

ERinfoPro is the solution for identifying unconscious patients 

The unconscious state is time-sensitive. Early diagnosis and stabilization are imperative for the best outcome. This is virtually impossible without proper identification. First responders are required to use their training, skills, and best judgment to determine the cause of an unconscious patient in most cases, but there is a much more effective way with ERinfoPro. 

It is comforting to know we will receive the best care and our loved ones can find us no matter what happens in this uncertain world. Sign up today to make sure the people you love are near, and first responders have the life-saving information they need, should an accident happen.