3 Patient Safety Takeaways from Pinnacle EMS 2018

Every year EMS leaders from across the country gather for a conference called Pinnacle.  While there are many sessions with various specific topics I generally try to leave the conference with some emerging themes or ideas.  This year was no exception as there were several key areas discussed either in the course sessions or between peers.  Likewise, I try to see how these topics intersect with patient safety and reducing preventable harm.

1. Interdisciplinary Relationships

Several sessions discussed the importance of developing stronger relationships between EMS and their local hospitals.  While many EMS organizations and hospitals typically work well together there are growing expectations for greater alignment in data sharing, patient outcomes and care coordination.

The topic of data flowing bi-directionally was discussed in several sessions as EMS would like follow information about their patients and receive outcome data.  Similarly, hospitals need specific data for their stroke, STEMI and trauma registries.  Conversation focused on breaking down silos and developing relationships so data can be shared between hospitals and EMS.

2. Transitions of Care

I had the honor of speaking at Pinnacle in a morning session about patient handoffs.  During the session I highlighted the topic of relationships between providers and their expectations during the transitions of care.  While best practices describe using a standard process in the hand off, relationships between providers is often a barrier that isn’t discussed.  Interdisciplinary training and developing a clear understanding of each other’s needs can improve hand offs so information isn’t delayed, missing or misunderstood.  Much of the presentation discussed communications as that is common causal factor for medical mistakes.

3. Hospital infections: Where do they come from?

Several leaders spoke about improving hand hygiene and the concern with contaminated equipment.  Questions were raised about hospital infections and if they might originate from the EMS setting.  While EMS has adopted steps for infection control, the potential for cross contamination is still a risk given its fast paced unpredictable environment.  For example, as a patient is moved from a house to the back of the ambulance there are many opportunities for a provider’s gloved hand to contact multiple surfaces.  Therefore, gloves should be changed more frequently especially as patients are touched and invasive procedures are performed.

These were only a few of the many enlightening sessions and conversations at Pinnacle.  If you didn’t connect with us at Pinnacle, then join us at EMS World EXPO in October at booth 1808 or the Patient Safety Boot Camp workshop.

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