Disparities in Feedback Provision to Emergency Medical Services Professionals

Prehosp Emerg Care. 2017 Nov-Dec;21(6):773-781. doi: 10.1080/10903127.2017.1328547. Epub 2017 Jun 16.


Introduction: Feedback to EMS professionals is a critical component for optimizing patient care and outcomes in the prehospital setting. There is a paucity of data concerning the feedback received by prehospital providers.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of feedback received by EMS professionals in the past 30 days including the types, sources, modes, and utility of feedback. The secondary objective was to identify factors associated with receiving any feedback and, specifically, feedback regarding medical care provided.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey examining currently practicing nationally certified EMS patient care providers (EMT or higher) in non-military and non-tribal settings. Data were collected on provider characteristics along with feedback received. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and multivariable logistic regression models were constructed to assess the relationship between EMS provider characteristics and receiving feedback. A non-respondent survey was administered to assess for non-response bias.

Results: Responses from 32,314 EMS providers were received (response rate = 10.4%) with 15,766 meeting inclusion criteria. In the 30 days preceding the survey, 69.4% (n = 10,924) of respondents received at least one type of feedback with 54.7% (n = 8,592) reporting receiving medical care feedback. Multivariable logistic regression modeling indicated that higher certification level, fewer years of experience in EMS, working for a hospital-based agency, air medical service, and higher weekly call volumes were significantly associated with increased odds of having received at least one type of feedback, and specifically medical care feedback. Additionally, providing primarily medical/convalescent transport and more years of EMS experience were significantly associated with decreased odds of receiving feedback.

Conclusion: Feedback to EMS providers is critical to improving prehospital care. In this study, nearly a third of providers did not receive any feedback in a 30-day period, and nearly half reported not receiving medical care feedback. Disparities in the frequency of feedback exist between different provider levels and service settings, while reported feedback decreased with years of experience in the profession. Future work is needed to assess the content of feedback and role in improving patient care and safety.

Keywords: emergency medical services; emergency medical technicians; paramedics; quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Certification
  • Communication
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Formative Feedback*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires