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Safety cultures in EMS agencies vary widely, Pitt study finds
Date:9/2/2010

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 2 A survey of emergency medical services (EMS) agencies from across the country found wide variation in perceptions of workplace safety cultureproviding a tool that might point to potential patient safety threats, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The study, to be published in the October/December issue of Prehospital Emergency Care and now available online, analyzed survey results from 61 EMS agencies in the U.S. and Canada. Researchers adapted a survey used in other health care settings to measure paramedic and emergency medical technician (EMT) perceptions of safety climate, teamwork, stress recognition and other components of workplace safety culture.

"While others have characterized safety culture in ambulatory care, the intensive care unit and other in-hospital settings, this is one of the first studies of its kind in the high-risk EMS environment. This study helps us begin to know how safe EMS care isand how widely safety cultures vary from agency to agency," said P. Daniel Patterson, Ph.D., EMT-B, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and lead author of the study. His comments come on the heels of another fatal helicopter ambulance crash in Arkansas, where three crew members, including EMS personnel, were killed.

Notably, the researchers found that air-medical EMS agencies tended to score higher across all six domains of safety culture than did ground-based agencies. Most of the EMS agencies participating in the study were private, rural, ground units employing fewer than 50 people. Most respondents were men who were full-time career employees of the agencies. The mean score on safety climate, one of the
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Contact: Wendy Zellner
ZellnerWL@upmc.edu
412-586-9777
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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