Focus on patient safety - "French Emergency Medical Aid Service. What if coordination rhymed with communication"

Tool to improve professional practice - Posted on Oct 12 2021


The French emergency medical aid services (SAMU) are hospital services which manage both calls related to medical emergencies and also requests for non-programmed care. 

The change in how the French Emergency Medical Aid Service is used over the last ten years and its role in the healthcare pathway of patients render quality and safety initiatives essential, based on reflexive approaches, including reporting and analysis of serious adverse events. 

The overview on care-related serious adverse events reported concerning the SAMU-SMUR from March 2017 to 25 June 2019 especially highlights communication problems between professionals; this subject falls more generally as part of a challenge to reinforce team work. 


By sharing this feedback from healthcare professionals confronted with these serious adverse events, this focus on patient safety can be used to alert and raise awareness among the French Emergency Medical Aid Service dispatch teams and their partners as to the occurrence of serious adverse events which could have been avoided by reinforcing information sharing. 

So it doesn’t happen again 

This focus on patient safety highlights a failing in communication between the various actors during a medical response, whether outside the hospital or within the hospital, or within the call receipt and control centre at the French Emergency Medical Aid Service Centre 15. 

Analysis of the deep-rooted causes and defective barriers shows a failure to communicate, pass on information, including interoperability of information systems, and poor team work. 

Resources are available to help further knowledge and disseminate reliable information but they remain under-used. 

In medical response, communication is not only verbal. The safety of patients relies on team work, and it only improves when information is shared. 

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