AHN Grove City, Superior Ambulance Launch Antibiotic Pilot Program

GROVE CITY, Pa. – Allegheny Health Network’s Grove City Hospital and Superior Ambulance Service have partnered on a pilot study exploring the rapid use of antibiotics to prevent infections from bone fractures.

As part of the study, emergency medical service providers from Superior will administer antibiotics when attending to open bone fractures, optimally within the first hour of the injury. Typically, patients with open fractures are not given antibiotics until the reach the hospital.

“A patient with an open fracture that becomes infected faces a number of potentially serious consequences, not the least of which is repeated trips to the operating room for the wound to be cleaned,” said Dr. Matthew Oczypok, an emergency physician for AHN Grove City, in a statement. “There is also a significant risk of a patient developing sepsis, which can result in the loss of the injured limb or even be life-threatening.  The faster we can administer an antibiotic the better their outcomes are likely to be. ”

Doug Dick, owner of Superior Ambulance, decided to participate in the pilot program because of the number of trauma patients with open fractures his ambulance teams treat and transport to AHN Grove City Hospital.

“I felt it was an important opportunity for my paramedics and nurses to advance their skills and ability to provide these patients with the best possible chance to recover from their injury without the complication of infection,” he said.

Most of the open fractures treated at AHN Grove City’s emergency department are the result of a fall, but the county’s rural makeup also means patients are injured by motor vehicle crashes, accidents with farming equipment, college and high school athletics and bull riding, according to Cheryl Pebbles, trauma coordinator for AHN Grove City’s level IV trauma center.

Oczypok, who serves as EMS medical director for Superior Ambulance, along with Michelle Eaton, Superior’s education director, trained and educated the paramedics and nurses in the administration of Cefazolin, the prescribed antibiotic for open fractures, as well as the protocols outlined for the pilot program. The program was developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of EMS, based on results from a study conducted by St. Vincent Medical Center in Indianapolis.

Not long after the program launched, the Superior team enrolled two patients in the protocol who suffered open fractures from falls.

“Without question, there is a significant need for this new protocol  in Mercer County,” said Robert Twaddle, vice president of prehospital care for AHN. “We greatly appreciate our partnership with Superior, which is based on a common goal to always do what is best for the patient, and look forward to future opportunities for collaboration and cooperation for the good of the community.”

AHN Grove City Hospital is a 67-bed acute care hospital in Mercer County. Formerly Grove City Medical Center, the hospital joined Allegheny Health Network in January 2020. It employs 300. 

Pictured: Superior Ambulance owner Doug Dick and AHN Grove City emergency physician Dr. Matthew Oczypok.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.