Patient Safety Study in EMS (SAFEMS)

1. What is this study?

This is a tri-method study investigating the state of patient safety in emergency medical services. A systematic review of adverse events, professional attitudes and safety interventions will establish the current state of knowledge in the scientific literature. Qualitative interviews with experts in both patient safety and emergency medical services will identify patient safety themes not found in the literature. Lastly, a roundtable event will bring experts together to discuss the findings of the systematic review and qualitative interviews and set a list of priorities for enhancing patient safety in EMS into the future.

2. Why bother doing this study?

Research has shown that adverse events, such as causing infections, giving the wrong medication, or hurting patients while moving them, affects millions of hospitalized patients each year. Further, several ways of reducing or eliminating certain adverse events have been implemented effectively in hospitals, making healthcare safer. It is likely that adverse events occur in other health care settings, such as emergency medical services, and that programs, processes and technologies can decrease the incidence of these events. Making healthcare safer for patients is a win-win situation: patients are healthier, health systems are more efficient, and healthcare providers are protected from making human errors.

3. Who is involved?

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Emergency Medical Services Chiefs of Canada, in partnership with the Calgary EMS Foundation, have funded this study. In-kind support was received from Centennial College. The principle investigators for this study are:

  • Blair Bigham, MSc, ACPf, Rescu
  • Laurie Morrison, MSc, MD, FRCPC
  • Co-investigators include:
  • Dr. Kaveh Shojania, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Dr. Steven Brooks, Rescu
  • Ellen Bull, Centennial College
  • Rob Burgess, Sunnybrook-Osler Centre for Prehospital Care
  • Merideth Morrison, County of Simcoe Paramedic Services,
  • Janet Maher, Centennial College
  • Lynda Atack, Centennial College

4. How will the study be conducted?

Three methods will be used to build a greater understanding of adverse events in EMS and how we can prevent those events from occurring. A systematic review of adverse events, professional attitudes and safety interventions will establish the current state of knowledge in the scientific literature. Qualitative interviews with experts in both patient safety and emergency medical services will identify patient safety themes not found in the literature. Lastly, a roundtable event will bring experts together to discuss the findings of the systematic review and qualitative interviews and set a list of priorities for enhancing patient safety in EMS into the future.

5. What do we hope to accomplish?

By identifying what adverse events are prevalent in EMS, and by identifying methods of reducing or eliminating these events from occurring, EMS care can be made safer for patients.

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