EDITOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to our guest blogger, Lee Varner. Lee is the Director of the Center for Patient Safety, and has over 20 years of experience in transformational leadership and patient safety to provide consultation and educational services for improving performance effectiveness, quality initiatives, healthcare best practices, culture training and patient safety strategies.
Recently, I was part of a conversation with a group of EMS leaders who were talking about clinical errors. They discussed the different types of clinical errors that they have seen and which ones kept them up at night. A few offered examples where a medication error or airway event harmed patient.
I was happy to hear that everyone realized that most adverse events were usually part of system failure and not just caused by a reckless EMT or paramedic. Furthermore, everyone agreed that EMS clinicians are competent, compassionate, and dedicated people who don’t show up for duty expecting to harm a patient. But when harm does reach a patient, it affects everyone: the patient, family, the EMT or paramedic, and the entire agency. There was no disagreement that harm from medical errors was affecting everyone involved, but the nagging question was, how to reduce those errors?