LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — A bill filed by a Louisville-area state representative is intended to make patient transports move quicker. HB 296 would impose several changes on Emergency Medical Services workers, among them, establishing a 60-minute response time for patient transfers between facilities.
“What we found is that the average wait time is 7 to 8 hours, but in many of these cases we’re looking at 12,14 hours and sometimes even days,” Nancy Galvagni, President and CEO of the Kentucky Hospital Association told FOX 56. She said the organization studied the issue for the past year, the results culminating in this bill, which the organization supports.
In some cases, especially in rural areas, even after a patient has made it to a hospital, it’s possible more higher-level care could be required.
“If you’re a gunshot victim you need to get a trauma center that can treat a gunshot victim, if you’re having a heart attack and you need angioplasty and that hospital doesn’t have a cardiologist or the specialist there to do it, you need to get to the right hospital to get that done,” Galvagni said.
The bill is being met with opposition by EMS workers, who argue patients are already being moved in a timely manner and that imposing such a requirement would pull resources away from being able to answer 911 calls.
“About 63% of the interfacility transfers have somebody responding within 25 minutes, about 92% of them or so have somebody responding within 2 hours, and 98% of everybody, all the inter-facility transfers no matter how acute, whether emergent or just grandma needs a ride home after she went to the emergency room, 98% of the time there’s an ambulance coming to get them within 3 hours,” EMS physician Walter Lubbers told FOX 56.
Data released by the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services backs up Lubber’s analysis, however, the bill would also dissolve the board moving oversight to the Inspector General under the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
“So basically you went from a board of a large group people that are experts in the field and you take it down and you put it into one guy with no EMS experience or expertise,” Lubbers said.
Galvagni said despite the data, there are instances of extreme wait times being shared with her by hospitals almost daily.
“It’s not a matter of keeping people stable. People aren’t getting the care they need when they need it, and we’re seeing deaths occur because of that,” Galvagni said.
Galvagni explained the bill does include a provision that allows hospitals to request a different ambulance provider without needing their provider’s permission if it is unable to respond within the 60-minute timeframe, but Lubbers argues that is not a feasible solution.
“The problem is who else is gonna do it, because every other county ambulance service is going to be in the same boat as you. They would say ‘well we can’t leave our county uncovered to go do this stable transport.’ There’s kind of a finite number of ambulances out there and they’re being used,” Lubbers said.
“EMS has workforce shortages and so do hospitals, but that’s not a response to treating the patient. At the end of the day the patient has to be served,” Galvagni said.