July 13, 2018 3:20 pm
Updated: July 13, 2018 7:25 pm

Are you a fainter? Why a new program could save you a trip to the ER

WATCH: Fainting can be a frightening ordeal that generally prompts a trip to the emergency room. But it's often unnecessary and drives up health care costs. Sarah Offin explains how health officials in Calgary are trying out new procedures to assess, treat and refer fainting patients outside of emergency rooms.


Health officials are hoping a new initiative that brings paramedics to people who faint could help alleviate overcrowding in Calgary emergency rooms.

Community Alternatives for Syncope  Management in the Emergency Room, or CASMER, was recently launched in Calgary and surrounding areas, within a 45-60 minute radius.

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“Most patients with low-risk syncope, otherwise known as a temporary loss of consciousness or fainting, have excellent outcomes because the diagnoses – vasovagal syncope and initial orthostatic hypotension – are non-life threatening and thus, do not merit a trip to the hospital,” said Dr. Satish Raj, CASMER project lead and professor at University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine.

But fainting can be a frightening ordeal, one that often prompts a trip to the emergency room. But health officials say it’s usually unnecessary.

According to Alberta Health Services, EMS currently transports approximately 2,000 fainting patients a year to emergency departments, creating a significant draw on healthcare costs.

READ MORE: Calgary study looks at why people faint

With CASMER, paramedics now meet fainting patients where they are and use simple checklists to determine whether their condition is considered low-risk or not.

If they are low-risk, paramedics treat and refer patients on-site. More severe cases are transported to a hospital.

“CASMER allows us to provide better care for our patients while freeing up ambulances to be available for the next 9-1-1 call,” said Ryan Lee, paramedic, and CASMER research coordinator.

The project is funded by the Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada. CANet, as it’s more often called, is a network of healthcare professionals, researchers, government, industry, not-for-profit, and patients supporting heart health, specifically in relation to arrhythmia and related conditions.

After Alberta, CASMER will be launched in various cities across the country.


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