7 min read

Preventing Medical Errors: Communication is King

By Team Pulsara on Jun 04, 2019

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared on EMS World, and was authored by Valerie Amato, NREMT, Assistant Editor of EMS World. Reach her at vamato@emsworld.com.

In this three-part monthly series, EMS World examines medical errors and preventable harm in prehospital and in-hospital settings. Medical errors are preventable events caused by procedural or communicative mistakes resulting in physical harm to, or death of, the patient. This series covers root causes of medical errors and how to implement measures to prevent them from occurring. The criticality of this systemic problem is indicated by a 2016 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, which contends that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., citing “communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors, poor judgment, and inadequate skill” as primary causes of error. The study’s data revealed an estimated 400,000 deaths occur every year in the U.S. as a result of medical error.

In Part 1, James Woodson, MD, FACEP and CEO of Pulsara, discusses Pulsara’s vision of reducing patient harm and treatment times. Pulsara software serves as a central hub of information that can be accessed by every healthcare provider who comes in contact with a patient, from prehospital to definitive care providers. The accessibility allows for a clearer, organized network of communication to reduce the chances of providers being misinformed or misheard during transitions of care.

Topics: EMS Communication
18 min read

10 Things You Need to Know About Hypovolemic Shock to Save Lives

By Team Pulsara on May 29, 2019

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to our guest blogger this week, Dean Meenach, MSN, RN, CNL, CEN, CCRN, CPEN, EMT-P. **

The effects of shock due to major blood loss rapidly become irreversible, so quick identification and intervention are critical.

Shock is not a disease, but a clinical manifestation of the body’s inability to perfuse its tissues adequately. [1] Shock is considered a systemic response to an illness or injury resulting in inadequate tissue perfusion and decreased oxygen to the cells.

Topics: EMS Shock 10 Things You Need to Know to Save Lives
2 min read

CEO Sit-Down with Acuity Link’s Alexandre Theoharidis

By Team Pulsara on May 24, 2019

Healthcare is burdened by the archaic means of communication. And everyone — from EMS to critical care teams to the discharge teams at the hospital — is feeling the effects. Luckily, hospital and EMS providers no longer need to be stuck in the dark ages of communication. Technology companies like Pulsara and Acuity Link work to streamline the most frustrating and broken parts of the patient care and communication processes from first medical transport through patient discharge.

Acuity Link’s CEO and co-founder, Alex Theoharidis purpose-built the company as a means to address mounting inefficiencies in the medical transportation request process. Today he shares his perspectives around what is needed to streamline non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) logistics in order to improve patient flow, and how solutions like Acuity Link work to elevate a customer’s patient transfer process – and ultimately the entire patient experience.

Topics: EMS Healthcare Regional Systems of Care Connected Teams
2 min read

To Those Who Go Beyond the Call: An EMS Week Thank You

By Courtney Chumley on May 20, 2019

With the arrival of EMS Week, comes a great opportunity to reflect on this year's theme: Beyond the Call, Crews and Caregivers placing service above self. It makes me incredibly proud to be part of a profession that recognizes these moments. However, as a manager it also has made me wonder how many moments are taking place every day that we miss. 

This theme makes me realize we can do a better job of recognizing many of the efforts by our EMS providers, and I am grateful that we have an entire week dedicated to doing just that. I truly believe that caregivers in our profession are stepping up every day without expectations to go above and beyond, and we can all do a better job of saying thank you to our colleagues. These moments can be the smallest of gestures that mean the world to someone else, or a huge effort made possible by entire departments joining forces. 

Topics: EMS
1 min read

The Dire Impact EMS Staffing Shortages Has on Our Communities [Opinion]

By Justin Baker on Apr 17, 2019

While the industry has grown and improved thanks to advances in technology and new procedures, one thing that continues to plague the EMS profession is shortage of staff -- and this particularly holds true in areas that depend on volunteers.

Although EMS continues to grow and evolve as a nationally recognized profession, the journey has not been without hiccups. With the rollout of the accreditation rule for EMS programs in the State of Texas, which requires EMS programs to be tied to a college for the Paramedic Certification, the issue has only become more apparent. Now, these programs are requiring students to obtain college degrees to receive their paramedic certification.

Topics: EMS
3 min read

A Better Way for First Responders to Address Families of Critical Patients -- From Someone Who has Been on Both Sides.

By Courtney Chumley on Apr 12, 2019

Every first responder has gone through EMT and/or Paramedic school and remembers the very short section that covered how to explain to a family that their loved one has died. “Don’t use vague words. Make sure you use 'has died' and 'is dead.'” But after 20 years of field experience, that section did not equip us with nearly enough information to help these family members cope far into the future.

Throughout my career, I have spoken with many people who have suffered a sudden loss. I have heard the same information from them: they didn’t know what was going on. No one was talking to them and letting them be a part of the process. The family and bystanders wonder if they could have done more to help. Then, they wonder what happens next.

There was a turning point in my career 12 years ago where I was on-scene at an unexpected cardiac arrest in a 28-year-old male. He had the flu for a few days and collapsed in front of his young wife. We were doing our best to resuscitate him, when I heard his wife ask “I don’t know if any of you believe in God but can someone please pray with him real quick?” Before I could say a word back, someone else on scene replied “we don’t have time for that right now.”  To this day, I am still bothered by that momentary lack of compassion. All that was requested of us was to say a few silent words to him on behalf of her beliefs to help bring just a moment of comfort and hope to a terrifying situation. 

Topics: EMS
1 min read

Pulsara CEO Discusses Effective Documentation and Communication on "Inside EMS" Podcast

By Hannah Ostrem on Apr 10, 2019

EMS1.com recently featured Pulsara's Founder and CEO, James in an episode of their Inside EMS podcast, where he discussed regional systems of care and how they impact effective communication. Below is an excerpt of the accompanying article, as well as the podcast episode for your listening pleasure. 



In this episode, co-hosts Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson are joined by Founder and CEO of Pulsara Dr. James Woodson. Dr. Woodson shares his expertise by defining documentation and how it relates to good patient care, as well as the role and responsibility of providers to use effective communication and shares his opinions as to why EMS has trouble connecting with the care team.

Topics: EMS Communication
4 min read

Face the Music: Thinking Outside the Pill Bottle for Dementia Patients

By Kate Leatherby on Apr 08, 2019

There are several clinical studies of elderly populations that suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia which show that familiar and pleasant music can decrease agitation, reduce depression, increase movement and sociability, as well as improve cognitive ability and decrease problem behaviors BETTER than medicine.  Recently, I was privileged to encounter this phenomenon up close and in person.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of music. I spent many years playing my own music, and I’ve spent thousands of hours at music festivals and live shows, connecting with the energy in each note. As a kid, I remember sitting in the backseat of my mom’s car and singing along to all of her favorite artists she’d play over and over on cassette tapes.

Anytime I hear those songs now, I remember what it felt like to sing them with my mom as we cruised along the roadways of southwestern Pennsylvania. I can vividly recall the carefree feeling, the happiness, the smiles, and most of all how the music would flow through us, deepening our mother-daughter bond with each note.

Topics: EMS
6 min read

Patient Handovers: 10 Things You Need to Know to Save Lives

By Team Pulsara on Apr 05, 2019

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to our guest blogger this week, Rommie L. Duckworth, BS, LP. Rom is a dedicated emergency responder and award-winning educator with more than twenty-five years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital health care systems, and public and private emergency services. Currently a career fire captain and paramedic EMS coordinator, Rom is an emergency services advocate, and contributor to research, magazines and textbooks on topics of leadership, emergency operations, and educational methodology. Rom is a frequent speaker at conferences and symposia around the world and can be reached via RescueDigest.com.


The American College of Emergency Physicians has called patient handover “the most dangerous point in a patient’s ED journey,” and the World Health Organization has identified communication during patient handover as a critical failure point that can cause “serious breakdowns in the continuity of care, inappropriate treatment and potential harm to the patient.” [1,2] 

Topics: EMS Patient Safety
1 min read

The Elephant in the Room: Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in EMS

By Justin Baker on Mar 25, 2019

Mental health issues remain a concerning problem that plague first responders. As we continue to look at the issue as a whole, the motto has always been to sweep it under the rug and not let fellow coworkers know that something bothered you. It is time that we get past this "tough" exterior, and start taking care of ourselves.

Topics: EMS
2 min read

The Unrealized Potential ER Doctors Have to Improve EMS Relationships Within Their Own Hospitals.

By Courtney Chumley on Mar 22, 2019

Eighteen years ago, I was a brand new paramedic. My boots were un-scuffed and my uniform shirt was spotless. I was ready to be a hero. But then I made my first breathing problems call and my patient had both a history of CHF and COPD and I couldn’t hear her lung sounds. I picked the protocol I thought best and took her to the hospital. 

On arrival, Dr. Robert Sheppard  walked into the room as I was giving report and promptly starts ordering everything from the protocol I didn’t choose. He probably saw the look on my face and my heart sinking, and he said “come here with me.” He took me out of the room into the empty radiology hallway and told me “you missed it.” I told him I couldn’t hear her lung sounds and he responded, “You didn’t have to hear her lungs… you didn’t listen to everything else her body was trying to tell you. You were too focused on one thing. Don’t miss it again.” He smiled and he walked back into the room to take care of the patient. That two minutes he took out of his day to pull me aside and teach me instead of doing it in front of everyone in the room has impacted my life to this day. 

Topics: EMS
3 min read

What's in a Name? How to Be an EMS Professional Worthy of the Title "Servant"

By Wes Gilbert on Mar 15, 2019

 “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” -Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

It’s probably safe to assume that by the time most Americans complete their high school education they are at least somewhat familiar with the above phrase from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Basically, Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention. While this can and does hold truth in some realms, I invite you to briefly explore with me a different take on this phrase.

What’s in a name? To be called a public servant is a very honorable and noble thing. Whether you’re a police officer, firefighter, or EMS provider, you are a public servant by both legal and popular definition. But when was the last time you put some thought into this label?

Topics: EMS
2 min read

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication in Healthcare: Lessons from Decades of Marriage.

By Scott Stanley on Mar 13, 2019

The secret to effective communication is knowing how and when to share your message. This is something that, after 20 years of marriage, I am finally starting to grasp the concept of.

Let me explain: When we communicate with others, we can do so in two ways -- in real-time (synchronously), or we can deliver a message that can be consumed by the recipient when it is convenient for them, (asynchronously).

For instance, I have found that when communicating with my wife about an injury to one of my children, a phone call, no matter what time of day or night, is warranted. Information is shared between us that is used to make decisions in the care and treatment of those injuries, and an action plan is set in place quickly. This real-time, synchronous communication lets us be as efficient as possible under time-sensitive conditions. 

Topics: EMS Healthcare Communication Technology
2 min read

Research Reveals the True Impact EMS Providers Have on STEMI Survivability

By Courtney Chumley on Mar 11, 2019

Picture this: You receive a 911 call for chest pain, and on arrival you are quick to identify that your patient is having a STEMI. You quickly load the patient into the medic unit and then notify the receiving facility you are on the way. You find out later that your patient went to the cath lab and is now in recovery doing well. Job well done….or was it?

Topics: STEMI EMS Communication
2 min read

EMS and the ED need to stop playing telephone (or radio, rather). There's a better way to communicate.

By Courtney Chumley on Jan 31, 2019

Not too long ago in EMS, having computer-aided dispatch was only a daydream. We were lucky to even get a patient type back then. Remember when we were “dispatched” by picking up the phone at the station and being told there was a medical emergency at an address? This would sometimes be followed by a tip like “if you see a brown cow near a white picket fence, you should turn there.” No? Was that just those of us in rural Texas?

Fast forward to 2019, when there are national standards for emergency dispatchers to obtain information from the calling party and relay this information to the responding personnel. Now, not only do first responders get an address with a map, we get often get more details too: “42yr old male, chest pain, skin is cool and clammy, the patient was instructed to take Aspirin by the dispatcher, he is changing color. Patient was outside mowing his grass when the pain started 30 minutes ago.”

Topics: EMS
1 min read

How EMS Leadership in Colorado Springs Inspired Collaboration for Better Patient Care [White Paper]

By Hannah Ostrem on Jan 17, 2019

“In today’s interconnected and complex healthcare environment, an EMS leader must understand when and how to collaborate, both within the organization and with outside partners.”

Last month, EMS1.com published “The State of Collaboration in EMS” white paper, to help inform EMS leaders about the importance of and tips for collaboration within their own organizations and with outside entities.

One region featured in the white paper was Colorado Springs, CO. The region was struggling to connect the more than twelve fire and EMS organizations and five hospitals (who are part of two larger hospital systems), particularly when trying to communicate key information for time sensitive emergencies. The feature in the white paper discusses how EMS leaders in the area were able to unite all care teams, regardless of the entities they worked for, around a common goal of improving quality of care for patients in the community by reducing delays due to miscommunication.

Topics: EMS Leadership Communication Technology
2 min read

What Ancient Wisdom Can Tell Us About Improving Lives of Patients and Caregivers.

By Shane Elmore, RN on Jan 03, 2019

I want to discuss a story that at first might seem an unusual and even confusing topic for a Pulsara blog post, and I want to start out with a disclaimer that this post isn't about religion. I'll use the ancient story of the Tower of Babel from the Bible to illustrate my point, but hopefully all readers will be able to glean value from my words regardless of views, beliefs, or religion. 

Topics: EMS Healthcare
2 min read

Ethical Considerations for the Mental Health of First Responders

By Arron Paduaevans on Dec 13, 2018

As emergency medical professionals -- including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and firefighters -- one of the greatest risks we encounter is damage to our own mental health. As emergency medical technicians and paramedics, we are the first line of emergency responders to accidents, crime scenes, and natural disasters. As such, we encompass a serious and vital role in emergency preparedness.

As first responders, it is our duty to provide emergency services in the immediate aftershock of crises and disasters, both manmade and natural. Time spent in affected areas can be a few moments up to several months, often working long days under demanding and traumatic conditions, observing the human injuries, physical devastation and psychological destruction that can go along with tragedies and catastrophes.

Topics: EMS
2 min read

Australian Health System Achieves Faster Treatment for Every Stage of Patient Journey With Pulsara [Preliminary Research]

By Hannah Ostrem on Dec 07, 2018

"Preliminary results show that every stage of the patient journey is faster when Pulsara is used."
Teams at  the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health  in Victoria, Australia are setting new care standards for patients suffering suspected stroke or STEMI.
As part of their Pre-Hospital Real-time cOMmunication using Pulsara Technology (PROMPT) Project, the care teams have implemented Pulsara to determine whether the platform can help improve treatment times for critical conditions by  facilitating communication between and  among EMS teams and care teams at the hospital.
Pulsara is quickly dominating the United States healthcare space as the only regional communication network for healthcare, but the platform is now widely used in Australia too. Researchers of the PROMPT project recently unveiled their preliminary findings.
Topics: Stroke STEMI EMS Australia
3 min read

Why Technology Alone Can't Change Your EMS Agency's Culture [eBook Excerpt]

By Hannah Ostrem on Nov 27, 2018

Last Month, EMS1.com published an eBook titled "Examine Your EMS Agency's Safety Culture to Improve Patient Outcomes."  In it, Pulsara's Founder and CEO, Dr. James Woodson, was featured for one of the articles about how technology is not a magic bullet that can fix an inefficient EMS culture. Instead, technology must be supplemented with good processes, and most importantly, with the right people. Below is the full article featuring Dr. Woodson. The entire eBook can be downloaded here!

Topics: EMS Technology