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To determine the type and frequency of immediate unsolicited feedback received by emergency medical service (EMS) providers from patients or their family members and emergency department (ED) personnel.
Prospective, observational study of 69 emergency medical services providers in an urban emergency medical service system and 12 metropolitan emergency departments. Feedback was rated by two medical student observers using a prospectively devised original scale.
In 295 encounters with patients or family, feedback was rated as follows: 1) none in 224 (76%); 2) positive in 51 (17%); 3) negative in 19 (6%); and 4) mixed in one (<1%). Feedback from 254 encounters with emergency department personnel was rated as: 1) none in 185 (73%); 2) positive in 46 (18%); 3) negative in 21 (8%); and 4) mixed in 2 (1%). Patients who had consumed alcohol were more likely to give negative feedback than were patients who had not consumed alcohol. Feedback from emergency department personnel occurred more often when the emergency medical service provider considered the patient to be critically ill.
The two groups provided feedback to emergency medical service providers in approximately one quarter of the calls. When feedback was provided, it was positive more than twice as often as it was negative. Emergency physicians should give regular and constructive feedback to emergency medical services providers more often than currently is the case.