Poor perceptions about workplace safety culture among emergency medical services (EMS) workers is associated with negative patient and provider safety outcomes -- the first time such a link has been shown in the pre-hospital setting, according to a study by University of Pittsburgh researchers that now appears online in Prehospital Emergency Care and is scheduled to be published in the January-March print edition.
"There are sometimes drastic differences in how workers perceive their workplace safety from one EMS agency to the next," said senior author P. Daniel Patterson, Ph.D., EMT-B, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "What we have found is that perceptions about safety may be reality."
Prior studies of the in-hospital setting and of high-risk occupations outside of health care have linked safety culture scores to such outcomes as injuries and accidents, but this is the first time that such a connection has been found in the EMS setting, noted Dr. Patterson.
The investigators measured EMS safety culture by surveying emergency medical technicians and paramedics at 21 EMS agencies across the U.S. They used a scientifically validated survey that collects EMS worker opinions regarding six key areas: safety climate, teamwork climate, perceptions of management, working conditions, stress recognition and job satisfaction. Safety outcomes were measured through a survey designed by EMS physician medical directors and investigators to identify provider injuries, patient care errors and safety-compromising behavior.