Effect of Body-Worn Cameras on EMS Documentation Accuracy: A Pilot Study

Jeffrey D. Ho, Donald M. Dawes, Evan M. McKay, Jeremy J. Taliercio, Scott D. White, Blair J. Woodbury, Mark A. Sandefur, James R. Miner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Current Emergency Medical Services (EMS) documentation practices usually occur from memory after an event is over. While this practice is fairly standard, it is unclear if it can introduce significant error. Modern technology has seen the increased use of recorded video by society to more objectively document notable events. Stationary mounted cameras, cell-phone cameras, and law enforcement officer Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) are increasingly used by society for this purpose. Video used in this way can often clarify or contradict recall from memory. BWCs are currently not widely used by EMS. The hypothesis is that current EMS documentation practices are inaccurate and that BWCs will have a positive effect on documentation accuracy. Methods: This prospective, observational study used a convenience sample of paramedics in a simulation lab. The Paramedics wore a BWC and responded to a simulated call of “One Down” (unresponsive from heroin abuse) involving Role Players (RPs). The paramedics received standardized cues from the RPs during the simulation to keep it on track. The simulation contained many factors of concern (e.g., weapons and drugs in plain view, unattended minors, etc.) and intentional stressors (e.g., distraught family member, uncooperative patient, etc.). Upon completion of the scenario, paramedic documentation occurred from memory on an electronic template. After initial documentation, paramedics viewed their BWC recording and were allowed to make tabulated changes. Changes were categorized by a priori criteria as minor, moderate, or major. Results: Ten paramedics participated with an average age of 33.3 years (range 22–43), 8 males and 2 females. The average length of paramedic career experience was 7.7 years (range 2 months to 20 years). There were 71 total documentation changes (7 minor, 51 moderate, 13 major) made after video review. Linear regression (ANCOVA) indicated changes made indirectly correlated with years of experience (coefficient 8.27, 4.22–12.3, 95% CI, p = 0.002), but all made some changes. Conclusion: Current EMS documentation practices demonstrate significant inaccuracy regardless of years of experience. Use of BWC technology appears to significantly improve EMS documentation accuracy in this pilot study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2017


  • Emergency Medical Services
  • body-worn camera
  • documentation
  • memory
  • video

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