Paramedics to use ultrasound and portable lab tests
September 21, 2016
EDMONTON – Alberta paramedics will have access to additional treatment tools, such as ultrasound scanners and portable lab tests, due to a change in legislation. As a result, they will be better equipped to serve patients in rural and remote areas.
The transfer of the paramedic profession from the Health Disciplines Act to the Health Professions Act will strengthen healthcare delivery in Alberta, the provincial government said.
The use of ultrasound and point-of-care blood testing will help paramedics determine a wide variety of medical conditions, including whether a patient has an infection or is suffering from a heart attack. This means greater access to healthcare in rural Alberta, long-term care facilities, patients’ homes and other settings outside hospital.
“With paramedics on the frontlines of healthcare, they play a critical role in responding to the needs of patients,” said Sarah Hoffman (pictured), Minister of Health. “This change allows them to use their skills more widely and treat more people, both in emergency situations and on non-urgent calls.”
This transition will also allow the Community Paramedic Program to expand as community care paramedics will be able to conduct more medical tests in a patient’s home and provide medication to a patient until they can get to their community pharmacy.
“We know that the more we can do on the front lines, the better it is for patients and the broader healthcare system,” said Darren Sandbeck, chief paramedic, Alberta Health Services. “Using our community paramedic program as an example; by providing more care in the community, we are reducing pressure on emergency departments.”
The regulatory change also gives the Alberta College of Paramedics and its members more options to support a flexible working environment for paramedics experiencing medical conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The new regulation also provides more integrated healthcare delivery as it allows paramedics to collaborate and work directly with nurse practitioners.
“This is really all about improving patient care,” said Deb Gordon, vice president and chief health operations officer, Alberta Health Services. “EMS is the first point of care for more than 320,000 Albertans every year. This change helps AHS better integrate EMS into the health system, by using their experience and skills in different ways to help us provide patients with the best healthcare possible.”