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December 14, 2018

Deadline Friday for Hinsdale EMS to File Patient Reports


Lake City’s well-trained team of medical emergency responders, including Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics, is facing an important deadline late this week as they work to complete voluminous patient care reports which have piled up throughout the past summer.
In a conversation with retiring EMS Director Jerry Gray at mid-week, SILVER WORLD learns that the number of ambulance responses in and around Lake City, and elsewhere in the county, dropped slightly in terms of call volume 2018 compared to 2017.
In 2017, according to Gray’s records, a total of 106 ambulance runs took place in the town and county, compared to 80 which have occurred thus far this year.
What has changed, however, is the requirements for highly detailed electronic Patient Care Reports (ePCR) on each run which went into effect at the start of this year.
Prior to 2018, individual patient reports usually consumed between 35 and 45 minutes of time; with added requirements this year, however, the individual reports — which Gray terms “cumbersome, difficult and time consuming” — can take up to two hours to fully document all details of a single medical emergency response.
The completed reports, which are assigned to the team’s highest ranking member, are finalized and then submitted electronically to the data section of Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment’s Emergency Medical Services Division.
In addition to being required by the state, the completed ePCRs furnish the basis for billing information.
The backlog in completing patient reports has been well known for some time and has been the topic at monthly EMS meetings beginning in August and continuing through the medical responders’ last meeting on Monday, November 12.
As EMS Director, Gray informed team members of the requisite of timely completion of the patient reports after realizing that thus far in 2018 only approximately 30 percent of the patient reports have been completed and filed with the state.
Denver-based physician Dr. Gary Witt has served as Medical Director for Hinsdale County EMS since June, 2011. After learning of the backlog of reports and citing the fact that it is in fact his medical license under which the county EMS team operates, Dr. Witt has issued an ultimatum. He notes that while the report filing process is cumbersome, “documentation is an essential, unavoidable and crucial part of our job.”
Citing the inherent liabilities of insufficient documentation, Dr. Witt has issued an ultimatum that all 2018 ePCRs must be brought up to date and filed with the state no later than the final day of the month, this Friday, November 30.
Dr. Witt further determines that in the future, all patient care reports must be completed within 72 hours of the patient event. Lack of timeliness in filing patient reports makes the county EMS organization highly vulnerable in the event of a state audit and could ultimately jeopardize its future existence.
Members of the EMS team who have not completed this past year’s patient reports prior to the Friday, November 30, deadline, will have their
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medical privileges temporary suspended, and they will be unable to serve on the ambulance.
With the deadline looming later this week, and a massive number of reports still to be completed and filed, EMS Director Gray says that the direct result — albeit temporary — may be an immediate reduction in emergency medical care personnel available for ambulance runs as of this Saturday.
Hinsdale County Emergency Medical Service Gray, adds, is already critically understaffed with a limited number of EMTs, EMT-Intermediates, Paramedics and Wilderness First Responders on the roster as of this month.

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