Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Prehosp Emerg Care. 2014 Jul-Sep;18(3):350-8. doi: 10.3109/10903127.2013.869640. Epub 2014 Mar 26.

Understanding safety in prehospital emergency medical services for children.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

For over a decade, the field of medicine has recognized the importance of studying and designing strategies to prevent safety issues in hospitals and clinics. However, there has been less focus on understanding safety in prehospital emergency medical services (EMS), particularly in regard to children. Roughly 27.7 million (or 27%) of the annual emergency department visits are by children under the age of 19, and about 2 million of these children reach the hospital via EMS. This paper adds to our qualitative understanding of the nature and contributors to safety events in the prehospital emergency care of children.

METHODS:

We conducted four 8- to 12-person focus groups among paid and volunteer EMS providers to understand 1) patient safety issues that occur in the prehospital care of children, and 2) factors that contribute to these safety issues (e.g., patient, family, systems, environmental, or individual provider factors). Focus groups were conducted in rural and urban settings. Interview transcripts were coded for overarching themes.

RESULTS:

Key factors and themes identified in the analysis were grouped into categories using an ecological approach that distinguishes between systems, team, child and family, and individual provider level contributors. At the systems level, focus group participants cited challenges such as lack of appropriately sized equipment or standardized pediatric medication dosages, insufficient human resources, limited pediatric training and experience, and aspects of emergency medical services culture. EMS team level factors centered on communication with other EMS providers (both prehospital and hospital). Family and child factors included communication barriers and challenging clinical situations or scene characteristics. Finally, focus group participants highlighted a range of provider level factors, including heightened levels of anxiety, insufficient experience and training with children, and errors in assessment and decision making.

CONCLUSIONS:

The findings of our study suggest that, just as in hospital medicine, factors at the systems, team, child/family, and individual provider level system contribute to errors in prehospital emergency care. These factors may be modifiable through interventions and systems improvements. Future studies are needed to ascertain the generalizability of these findings and further refine the underlying mechanisms.

KEYWORDS:

child health services; delivery of care; emergency medicine; health services research; safety

PMID:
24669906
PMCID:
PMC4062591
DOI:
10.3109/10903127.2013.869640
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center