EMS Tips

EMS Tips – The Cost of Interruptions – Med Errors – Compression Fraction

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Our work days, whether it’s an 8-, 10-, 12- or 24- hour shift, can become a series of microbursts of work because of the interruptions we allow from our smartphones and apps, email programs and from co-workers.

The Re-work podcast recently explored the cost of interruptions to office workers and computer coders (Listen to Interruption is Not Collaboration).

Workplace instant messaging and cubicle drop-bys disrupt the flow of coders, but those interruptions are rarely in the midst of a life-saving intervention. In EMS interruptions can be much more costly – even fatal.

Medication administration cross check (

The medication administration cross check is a focused, scripted conversation to verify the indication, dose and administration route for any drug given to a patient by a paramedic. It is designed to by a systematic, easy to follow process the blocks interruptions and reduce the risk of medication error.

Situations that make errors more likely included disorganized workflow, interruptions and distractions, fatigue, time pressure and high stress (in other words the EMS workplace lends itself to errors).

Read about medication error prevention:

Maximize compression time during CPR (

And minimize time not doing compressions when caring for a sudden cardiac arrest victim. I just completed a Health Care Provider CPR renewal. One of the metrics of success was “compression fraction”, which is the proportion of time spent delivering chest compressions during CPR.

Here are interruptions that can reduce compression fraction and are costly to patient survival:

  • Advanced airway insertion
  • Obtaining intravenous access
  • Pulse checks

Read about compression fraction: 

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.