As part of my new role, I also wear the hat of Risk Management.  This means that all complaints and reports of medical errors come through my office.  It also means that I get all the “He said, she said” crap that comes with EMS not being accepted as part of the patient care team.

Surprisingly I have received more than one report of a crew “not giving notification via radio” from a hospital.  This often happens when the person who answered the radio was unhappy with the report, lost the triage slip and is in trouble or that the crew simply didn’t make the call.  It happens.  Sometimes we’re busy with a little thing called patient care and our partners driving should not be distracted by talking on the radio while driving if we’re that busy.


Now for the best part: The investigation.


I go over to the computer and pull up the crew, date and time, review the chart and get a feel for what was going on during the call.  Most importantly I look through the timeline of interventions to see if there was time to make a call, and then I script what my report would have sounded like.

Then I go over to the fax machine and pull out a Request for Radio Traffic Form and pull the tape.

Much like politicians, I think some people forget that everything is recorded these days and simply saying “No they didn’t” can be proven wrong in as little as 24 hours.

When that CD arrives and I listen to a pretty good radio report matching the patient I just read about, then hear a voice aknowlege it I feel great.  My guys did the right thing and I get to play that sound clip to the hospital.

Of course it’s also a drag when I get an email from radio that states “No traffic exists for specified date/time, please check.”  Then I can’t confirm what really happened and have to be the bad guy.

When your CQI calls you on the phone or into the office, it’s not because of some sadistic desire to torture you (despite how much that seems to be the purpose), but because we can no longer find evidence to support your version of events.  I have already been able to deal with most of the complaints that come in by reviewing your documentation, your previous documentation to ensure it wasn’t a fluke, and everything else available to defend your care and demeanor.

Sometimes you just plain screwed up.

Make it easy for me:

Do what’s right, write down what you did, tell the right person when you get there.


They’ll still complain, but at least I’ll have the ammo to defend you.

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