Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Real Fraud and Freeing The Massachusetts 200

Just over 200 Massachusetts EMTs and Paramedics began serving suspensions today of 9 months to two years, accused of signing rosters for bogus Refresher courses and lying to state officials.
Most of those suspended who worked for private ambulance companies are now also out of work, summarily fired the moment their names appeared on the state's list of the accused.
Certainly there is no defense for lying or, in the case of people who may have taken overtime money for classes they never went to, stealing.
But talk to enough people involved in the case and you realize pretty quickly that the guilt of many of the punished is far from certain.
In the ensuing brouhaha, a whole cabal of state officials, private ambulance company spokesmen and various fire department officials have gone to great lengths in the press to assure the public that they have reviewed every call completed by all 200+ EMTs and Paramedics in question and have found no instance of any kind of adverse patient outcome related to any of the medical treatment they provided.
IN OTHER WORDS, despite not completing refresher training so crucial to the safety of the Commonwealth that the state has seen fit to bankrupt and send to personal and professional ruin over 200 hardworking members of an already underpaid, underappreciated profession, NOT ONE CITIZEN was hurt or received subpar care.
I think we were meant to be placated by such good news, but I am merely perplexed.
If this training is SO important, why is it so clearly meaningless, and utterly unconnected to patient outcomes????
And if this is obvious to me, why don't I hear anyone other than other EMTs or Paramedics asking the question publicly?
Having completed numerous refreshers since 1995 both as an EMT and a Paramedic, I can say with complete confidence that the recertification process may sound good on paper, but in reality is a colossal waste of time and money.
Even the best refresher is not exempt from the law of diminishing returns, the courses steadily waning in utility and interest fairly quickly.
Isn't it time to re-think re-certification?
Isn't it, perhaps, time to re-think licensure, so that, like our RN counterparts, we can keep our jobs without enduring the mind-numbing burden every other year of a 48-hour re-hashing of things we already do every day?
I hope so.
And Free The Massachusetts 200!