Prehospital time for patients with acute cardiac complaints: A rural health disparity

Published:December 03, 2021DOI:



      Delays in care for patients with acute cardiac complaints are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The objective of this study was to quantify rural and urban differences in prehospital time intervals for patients with cardiac complaints.


      The ESO Data Collaborative dataset consisting of records from 1332 EMS agencies was queried for 9–1-1 encounters with acute cardiac problems among adults (age ≥ 18) from 1/1/2013–6/1/2018. Location was classified as rural or urban using the 2010 United States Census. The primary outcome was total prehospital time. Generalized estimating equations evaluated differences in the average times between rural and urban encounters while controlling for age, sex, race, transport mode, loaded mileage, and patient stability.


      Among 428,054 encounters, the median age was 62 (IQR 50–75) years with 50.7% female, 75.3% white, and 10.3% rural. The median total prehospital, response, scene, and transport times were 37.0 (IQR 29.0–48.0), 6.0 (IQR 4.0–9.0), 16.0 (IQR 12.0–21.0), and 13.0 (IQR 8.0–21.0) minutes. Rural patients had an average total prehospital time that was 16.76 min (95%CI 15.15–18.38) longer than urban patients. After adjusting for covariates, average total time was 5.08 (95%CI 4.37–5.78) minutes longer for rural patients. Average response and transport time were 4.36 (95%CI 3.83–4.89) and 0.62 (95%CI 0.33–0.90) minutes longer for rural patients. Scene time was similar in rural and urban patients (0.09 min, 95%CI -0.15-0.33).


      Rural patients with acute cardiac complaints experienced longer prehospital time than urban patients, even after accounting for other key variables, such as loaded mileage.


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