Review: PHPLS Course – prehospital paediatrics

BASICSlogoPrehospital Paediatric Life Support (PHPLS) is one of the courses offered under the ALSG umbrella.  In Scotland, providers include BASICS Scotland, and I recently completed this course when it was run in January 2014 at the Kinloch Hotel, Arran.

For those already familiar with ALS, ATLS, PHECC or MIMMS, this course similar in style & approach.  There was however substantial background reading which is necessary – even for the seasoned prehospital/community hospital practitioner – in order to achieve a pass mark in the pre-test and post-test exam.  The information is comprehensive, and as with anything else in paediatrics, there is no shortage of formulae and drug ranges to accommodate the range of ages from 0-16 years.

Much of the reading reinforces generic points seen across the ALSG courses.  A systematic approach is engendered throughout, but I did find some of the content of the course handbook less relevant than other courses that I have done.  The accompanying DVDs (there are 2!) provide a wealth of audiovisual material, but if you’ve a busy clinical day-to-day workload, you might find it difficult to find the time to get through all this.  However, the requirement to sit the online multiple-choice questions 5 days prior to the course (otherwise you can only attend as an observer) results in enough motivation to get through the written material.

For most practitioners, more benefit is derived from the course itself.  The opportunity to meet fellow professionals, benchmark your progress with theirs, and get ‘hands on’ is always appealing.  On this occasion, we were treated to an expert faculty, including some of our local colleagues from Crosshouse Hospital.  Although I am biased (being involved with BASICS Scotland as a director) there was no doubt that the faculty got it just right in their approach to the range of professionals attending.  As well as our core medical, nursing and paramedic teams from Arran, we were joined by nurse practitioners who will soon set foot in Cumbrae, and so we shared the same outlooks of resource-limited island clinical environments.

It’s worth noting that – as with many of the courses on offer from BASICS Scotland – whilst these courses are branded for prehospital use, they carry much relevance for health professionals in community hospital settings, perhaps even moreso than those courses specifically aimed at hospital specialists.  Our faculty had GPs, rural practitioners, air paramedics and consultants – all with great anecdotes and real life examples to talk about on the way.  Throughout, the course was delivered professionally, and they effectively managed to tailor many of the scenarios to the environments in which we work – appreciated.

PHPLS certainly exemplifies the fact that children are not just ‘small adults’, and covering everything from challenges of infancy to adolescence is always going to risk information overload, especially when the course includes medical and trauma cases.

Course cost varies between centres, and is also dependent on the centre where the course is delivered.  Our community friends at the Kinloch provided us (as always!) with great food, great hospitality and flexible use of their facilities throughout the weekend.

The PHPLS course is certified, meaning that there are both written and practical (‘moulage’) exams at the end.  This certainly keeps participants focussed throughout, and makes for more satisfaction when the certificate comes through.  The exams are fair enough – perhaps too much focus on some numerical figures and drug doses in the written exam (I follow the rule that for the vast majority of paediatrics, it’s always better to look it up).

I would recommend PHPLS to any BASICS responder, and any community hospital practitioner especially those in a rural setting.  I understand that the course material is due for an update soon, which would be very beneficial.  For more details of the BASICS Scotland course calendar, have a look here.

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