Not only does communication fail here

Dhe emergency ambulance service is called on more than eleven million missions each year. In view of the sheer number, you should be able to rely on a high level of professionalism from the helpers. But it has shortcomings, which often endangers patients. Error management is still neglected in the medical sector. Rescue service personnel are faced with special challenges. The local conditions are usually confusing, difficult weather conditions, contradicting information from eyewitnesses and the need to act under time pressure make the rescue service a high-risk workplace. Much, if not everything, such as the patient’s life, depends on effective communication. In this respect, the rescue service is similar to other high-risk workplaces such as those in aviation or the chemical industry. It has long been known from both areas that communication errors can have dramatic consequences. Often it is only small misunderstandings that add up to gross errors. Experts speak of the Swiss cheese model, small mistakes – serious consequences.

There are hardly any studies on the frequency of errors in the rescue service, and certainly not on the quality of communication within the teams. That is understandable given the variety of challenges. A study on the subject conducted under the direction of the author and now in the Journal Plos One was published, produced results that would be considered disconcerting, an understatement. The results of the investigation should be a wake-up call to those who are responsible for organizing the rescue service.


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