Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Black Eye

I’ve purposely not written about this because of all of the fallout. Not to mention that since I’ve become a part of management at my company I have to take care as to what I say. I’m certainly free to express my opinions about any topic, but with this particular subject I have to be a little more circumspect than I normally would.

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of publicity, not to mention considerable controversy, over the disciplinary action taken against 213 EMT’s in Massachusetts. These people were found to have been on rosters of refresher classes and ACLS recertification classes that never happened. Their existence, according to the findings of the investigation, was falsified. And money was exchanged.

The two people that were found to be the “ringleaders” of this mess were revoked in Massachusetts for life. A number of others were suspended for 2 years and some others were suspended for 45 days. There are reasons for these suspensions that exist, and I will try to make sense of them. The vast majority were suspended for 9 months.

One point that needs to be made clear in all of this is that the people involved are not new providers and this wasn’t initial training or education; the vast majority of them are senior-level providers with years of experience.

The scale of this is absolutely staggering. And I suspect this is only the beginning. I say this because this has spread into both New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Because of the money exchanged there are tax implications. People who used these certifications to re-license or renew the provider certificates, whether they know it or not, committed fraud. Then there is the issue of patients who could potentially claim they weren’t cared for by qualified providers. And I haven’t even touched on the Medicare/Medicaid implications.

It makes me sad, and it also makes me angry. Sad because so many people were involved. Angry because it didn’t have to happen.

One thing that will likely happen is that the whole education and certification process will be revamped. The overhaul process could take years

As I said, I suspect this is only the beginning. And it’s going to become more painful as time goes on.


TOTWTYTR said...

Sadly, I don't think that the entire process will be revamped. What I think will happen is that efforts to ensure that people follow the current counter productive refresher and continuing education system will be strengthened. More pointless audits, more OEMS staffers sitting in classes to make sure that we all sit and pay rapt attention to a subject that we've heard 20 times before.

None of which excuses the actions of these cretins, because they've made it harder on all if us.

Sadly, I haven't heard a condemnation of this from anyone in the fire service hierarchy. Which makes me doubt their true commitment to actually providing medical care. Which is a totally different topic, one that I'll leave for another time.

I feel bad for you and the majority of Cataldo personnel who follow the rules. Same goes for the Trinity guys and gals. This is just going to be one more burden you guys don't need.

Walt Trachim said...

One thing I can say about the potential of overhaul is that while I do believe something will happen, I don't know how far it will go. Incidentally, I agree with you when you mention that OEMS will audit everything that happens everywhere from now on. That, just by itself, will make obtaining EMS continuing education much more difficult.

Also, I don't expect to see anything substantial happen during my career. If anything does change, I suspect it will be after I have retired. And I probably have between 15-20 years left...

TOTWTYTR said...

Sadly Walt, I have to agree with you about the pace of change in EMS. For people who supposedly offer a rapid response to a crisis, we sure are slow to respond to a crisis within the the industry.

Then again, it's not as if most people in OEMS actually have much field experience, if any. Their motto is, "Saving lives, one meeting at a time."

Anonymous said...

This phenomenon seems pervasive across many professions. Management is clueless about what goes on every day in the "trenches". They have meetings and form committees to solve problems or implement change. This process takes months and sometimes years. And at the end of the day, nothing really changes.

Medic(three) said...

Seems silly to risk so much to avoid a few hours of classroom time.