Physician utilization in prehospital emergency medical services in Europe: an overview and comparison

Martin Rief, Daniel Auinger, Michael Eichinger, Gabriel Honnef, Gregor Alexander Schittek, Philipp Metnitz, Gerhard Prause, Philipp Zoidl, Paul Zajic

Affiliation of the authors

Division of General Anaesthesiology, Emergency- and Intensive Care Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.



Rief M, Auinger D, Eichinger M, Honnef G, Schittek GA, Metnitz P, et al. Physician utilization in prehospital emergency medical services in Europe: an overview and comparison. Emergencias. 2023;35:125-35


Background. National and regional systems for emergency medical care provision may differ greatly. We sought to determine whether or not physicians are utilized in prehospital care and to what extent they are present in different European countries.


We collected information on 32 European countries by reviewing publications and sending questionnaires to authors of relevant articles as well as to officials of ministries of health (or equivalent), representatives of national societies in emergency medicine, or well-known experts in the specialty.


Thirty of the 32 of European countries we studied (94%) employ physicians in prehospital emergency medical services. In 17 of the 32 (53%), general practitioners also participate in prehospital emergency care. Emergency system models were described as Franco-German in 27 countries (84%), as hybrid in 17 (53%), and as Anglo-American in 14 (44%). Multiple models were present simultaneously in 17 countries (53%). We were able to differentiate between national prehospital emergency systems with a novel classification based on tiers reflecting the degree of physician utilization in the countries. We also grouped the national systems by average population and area served.


There are notable differences in system designs and intensity of physician utilization between different geographic areas, countries, and regions in Europe. Several archetypal models (Franco-German, hybrid, and Anglo-American) exist simultaneously across Europe.


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