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Ensuring excellence in EMS: 5 benefits of accountability

Set a positive example by encouraging open communication, constructive feedback and shared responsibility for patient outcomes


“When you take full accountability, you takes ownership of your decisions and actions. You don’t place blame or make excuses, and you make an effort to correct areas of performance in need of enhancement,” writes Loiz.

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In the demanding and high-stakes field of EMS, the importance of accountability cannot be overstated. EMS providers shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding lives and providing critical care during times of crisis. By exhibiting accountability in their actions and decisions, EMS providers contribute to the overall effectiveness and quality of care delivered to patients. In this article, we will explore why accountability is crucial for providers and how it fosters excellence in the realm of EMS.

First, we need to understand the meaning of the word. “Accountability is an assurance that an individual or organization is evaluated on its performance or behavior related to something for which it is responsible,” Andrew Zola and Ivy Wigmore write in a TechTarget article. “The term is related to responsibility, but is regarded more from the perspective of oversight.” Accountability can be assessed using a continuous quality improvement system, patient satisfaction surveys, key performance indicator (KPI) data and provider input.

When you take full accountability, you take ownership of your decisions and actions. You don’t place blame or make excuses, and you make an effort to correct areas of performance in need of enhancement.

Accountability can increase efficiency by eliminating wasted time and effort on distracting activities and unproductive behaviors which can lead to greater value being placed on work, as well as increased skills and confidence. Following are 5 important benefits of taking full accountability in your work.

1. Ensuring patient safety

Accountability forms the foundation for patient safety within EMS. When providers embrace accountability, they prioritize the wellbeing of their patients above all else. They adhere to established protocols, make sound clinical judgments and follow best practices to mitigate risks. By taking ownership of their actions and outcomes, EMS providers play a vital role in maintaining the highest standards of patient care and safety.

2. Building trust and confidence

Accountability is a cornerstone of building trust and confidence among patients, colleagues and the community. When EMS providers take responsibility for their actions, it instills confidence in their abilities and professionalism. This trust extends beyond the immediate care setting, fostering stronger relationships with patients and their families, as well as earning the respect of fellow healthcare professionals and the broader community.

3. Enhancing team dynamics

Accountability is not only an individual trait, but also an essential aspect of effective teamwork within EMS. When providers embrace accountability, it cultivates an environment of trust, collaboration and mutual respect. By holding themselves accountable, EMS providers set a positive example for their colleagues, encouraging open communication, constructive feedback and shared responsibility for patient outcomes. Strong team dynamics driven by accountability lead to enhanced efficiency, better coordination and, ultimately, improved patient care.

4. Continuous professional growth

Accountability empowers EMS providers to continually learn, grow and improve their practice. By acknowledging their limitations, seeking ongoing education and engaging in reflective practices, accountable providers enhance their skills and knowledge. They actively participate in professional development opportunities, stay updated with the latest research and advancements, and adapt their approaches based on evidence-based practices. This commitment to personal and professional growth translates into better patient outcomes and elevates the standard of care.

5. Transparency and learning from mistakes

Accountability encompasses acknowledging and learning from mistakes. EMS providers are human and – despite their best efforts – errors may occur. However, by fostering a culture of accountability, providers feel comfortable reporting and discussing adverse events or errors. This transparency allows for comprehensive reviews, identifying system weaknesses and implementing corrective measures. It leads to a continuous learning process that drives improvement and ultimately reduces the likelihood of future errors.

A benchmark for excellence

Accountability lies at the core of excellence in emergency medical services. It ensures patient safety, builds trust, enhances team dynamics, fosters professional growth, and facilitates a culture of transparency and continuous learning. By embracing accountability, EMS providers – and leaders – demonstrate their unwavering commitment to the highest standards of care, making a lasting impact on the lives they touch and setting a benchmark for excellence.

Additional resources:

Michael Loiz is an experienced EMS executive with over 32 years of experience in EMS, education and public safety dispatch. He is currently a paramedic/EMS director for a 911 only, third-service, municipal EMS department, and owner of The Public Safety Consulting Group (PSCG) in Connecticut. He also runs the popular, “EMS Leadership” podcast. Contact him by e-mail. He is currently the NAEMT CT advocacy coordinator and has served as the chair of the Legislative Committee of the CT EMS Advisory Board (CEMSAB) since 2017.