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Paramedics' non-technical skills: a literature review
  1. Allan Shields1,
  2. Rhona Flin2
  1. 1Scottish Ambulance Service, Kirkcaldy, Fife, UK
  2. 2School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland
  1. Correspondence to Allan Shields, Scottish Ambulance Service, Fife Sub-divisional Headquarters, Kirkcaldy Ambulance Station, Whytemans Brae, Kirkcaldy, Fife KY1 2LG, UK; wshields{at}


Healthcare organisations have started to examine the impact that the human worker has on patient safety. Adopting the Crew Resource Management (CRM) approach, used in aviation, the CRM or non-technical skills of anaesthetists, surgeons, scrub practitioners and emergency physicians have recently been identified to assist in their training and assessment. Paramedics are exposed to dynamic and dangerous situations where patients have to be managed, often with life-threatening injuries or illness. As in other safety-critical domains, the technical skills of paramedics are complemented by effective non-technical skills. The aim of this paper was to review the literature on the non-technical (social and cognitive) skills used by paramedics. This review was undertaken as part of a task analysis to identify the non-technical skills used by paramedics. Of the seven papers reviewed, the results have shown very little research on this topic and so reveal a gap in the understanding of paramedic non-technical skills.

  • Crew resource management
  • patient safety
  • paramedic non-technical skills
  • error avoidance

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study has been approved by Aberdeen University, School of Psychology ethics Committee as having no ethical concerns. In addition to this the research protocol was produced to the East of Scotland Research Ethics Service who judged that this study does not require ethical review under the terms of the Governance Arrangements for Research Ethics Committees (GAfREC) in the UK. A copy of this letter can be produced along with School of Psychology Review.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement At this moment in time no other data is available, however this submission will form the basis of a thesis submission as part of a Master of Science.