Background: The association between burnout and patient safety has been analyzed in many studies for nurses, physicians, and residents. However, studies concerning prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) workers are limited, although they are particularly under risk for emotional stress. This study aims to descriptively analyze the overall degree of burnout among EMS-workers, and potential adverse events that might harm patients as well as the relationship between burnout and perceived safety outcomes for EMS-workers in Germany.
Methods: EMS-workers were recruited via German EMS-journals, social media and a professional association to participate in an online survey. The questionnaire includes the ´Maslach Burnout Inventory´ (MBI), the 'Emergency Medical Services Safety Inventory' (EMS-SI), and items about job satisfaction and the individual person. Data was descriptively analyzed by calculating frequencies, means, percentages and Pearson correlation coefficients. The association between burnout and patient safety was analyzed using linear and logistic regression models.
Results: A total of n = 1101 questionnaires were considered for data analysis. The vast majority of participants were male, younger than 40 years old, and full-time employees with an EMS-experience of 12 years on average. Between 19.9 and 40% of the participants showed a high degree of burnout in one of the burnout dimensions. Safety compromising behavior was the outcome measure with the highest percentage of participants reporting a negative outcome measure. The dimensions emotional exhaustion and depersonalization were positively associated with the safety outcomes injury and safety compromising behavior. Additionally, experiences, job satisfaction and the intention to leave the current job were significantly associated with the outcome measures.
Conclusion: This is the first study that examines the association between the degree of burnout and patient safety for EMS-workers. The results suggest that an expansion of psychological support for EMS-workers should be considered. Further research should concentrate on the complex relations between working conditions, burnout and patient safety.