January 13, 2016, WASHINGTON — Pending federal regulations threaten a longstanding practice that has allowed EMS personnel to administer controlled substances to patients who, for example, are suffering with severe pain or experiencing seizures. This practice will soon be prohibited unless the nation’s Controlled Substances Act is amended accordingly. The “Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2015” (H.R. 4365), sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), will allow EMS agencies to continue using standing orders from their medical director to administer approved medications to their patients under the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
I haven’t been able to find a reference to the specific regulations, but it appears that the DEA intends to make it harder for EMS agencies to obtain and then use controlled substances to treat ill patients.
Here are some of the things that the proposed law will allow EMS to do.
Permit EMS agencies to directly register with the DEA (rather than through their medical director);
Allow a single registration for an EMS agency (rather than for each location);
Ensure that an EMS agency has at least one physician medical director;
Allow the medical director to use standing orders for EMS personnel for the delivery or administration of a controlled substance (Schedule II – V); and
Update receipt, movement and storage rules for EMS agency controlled substances.
All of that seems to be from the “Duh” department, but as stands now there is a significant amount of hoop jumping before an EMS agency can get controlled drugs, or even non controlled drugs for that matter. Which our friends at the DEA apparently feel are not enough of a road block to patient care, so they are proposing to make it harder to obtain and administer pain and sedative medications to patients in the field.
Sadly, it will probably be months, if not years, if the proposed bill is passed by both houses of Congress and sent to the President to be signed into law. If it ever happens.
Sadly, it appears that Reagan was not only correct way back then, but little has changed.