Safety culture differs among EMS agencies: study

September 9, 2010

Perceptions of workplace safety culture vary widely in the emergency medical services field, indicates a new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Researchers adapted a survey used in other health care settings to measure perceptions of safety climate, teamwork, stress recognition, management, job satisfaction and working conditions at 61 EMS agencies in the United States and Canada.

According to a study abstract, agencies tended to score higher than ground-based agencies in all areas of safety culture. The mean score on safety climate was highest in agencies with fewer employees, lower annual patient contacts and higher proportions of acute patients.

Study author P. Daniel Patterson, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the university, said in a press release that the study provides benchmarking data for EMS agencies, which lack a common mechanism for classifying and reporting errors and adverse events.

The study is scheduled to appear in the October/December issue of Prehospital Emergency Care.