Last week noted EMS blogger and journalist Kelly Grayson upset many people by making the claim paramedics can diagnose a patient. He furthered his argument by talking to a lawyer about the issue. The lawyer agreed that paramedic do in fact make a diagnosis.Now this week the National Registers of Emergency Medical Workers, NREMW, is set to announce a new level of EMT. This new level of EMT will be called the EMT-Rx. As in paramedics trained and licensed to issue a prescription for non-narcotic drugs.
Vince Furnier Chief executive of the NREMW said this was something his organization has been exploring for years but never felt timing was right. Now with legal opinion on their side, the NEREMW will push this through.
“We have paramedics administering IV drugs for pain management and sedation. Many skilled paramedics do surgical medical procedures as part of pre-hospital care. So it makes logical sense if a paramedic can make a diagnosis they can prescribe medications.”
The NREMW see the EMT-Rx as a way to provide more service to their communities and also alleviate the overburdened medical clinics. Paramedic Stephen Vaughan is excited to be one of the persons selected for the pilot test of the program.
“I can’t tell you how many times per week someone calls for an ambulance when they don’t have an emergency. It takes me all of a minute with the patient to know their person just has a simple sinus infection. Why should we transport them to the ER? I can write a prescription for a z-pak just the same as someone at the hospital.”
Chief Executive Furnier echoes the sentiment and added this.
“Often times after triage at the ER a patient with a minor issue will only be seeing a physicians assistant or nurse practitioner. If these people can issue a minor prescription then so can our paramedics.”
None of the doctors we talked to were willing to go on record. Doctors though did seem to be against the idea. The general consensus was that a diagnosis is needed before a prescription can be written out. But when we pointed out that paramedics make diagnosis the doctors all scoffed at the idea.
Paramedic Vaughan is not concerned with what the doctors feel.
“We got the lawyers on our side. Doctors always bitch that we are transporting people to the ER who don’t need it. If we take care of the call in the field that will cut down on their complaining.”
The pilot program is set to kick off in April in limited areas. After initial testing additional EMT-Rx will be trained in other select areas. Based on the results of early tests a national level roll out of EMT-Rx could take place as soon as 2015.