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Presented by the Emergency Medical Services Practice Group

PA Bureau of EMS Eases Burden on Hospitals

As a supplement to Statewide BLS Protocol 931 (Suspected Influenza-Like Illness (ILI)), the PA Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (Bureau of EMS) has authorized a statewide BLS protocol for the non-transport of patients with suspected COVID-19. Temporary BLS Protocol 932 provides criteria for EMS providers to follow when evaluating and treating patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19, who can be safely cared for at home and without the need to be transported to a hospital.

Importantly, if patients meet these criteria, EMS may decide not to transport the patient to the hospital without first contacting medical command.

The Bureau of EMS provides a sample instruction sheet to EMS agencies to be provided to  patients who were seen by EMS, but not transported to the hospital. The instruction sheet emphasizes the importance of the patient monitoring and self-treating his/her symptoms and that they take steps to prevent the spreading of the infection to others. If a patient’s condition worsens, he or she is advised to contact their primary care physician, report to an urgent care center or call 9-1-1.

Temporary BLS Protocol 932 will remain in effect until it is rescinded by a subsequent EMS Information Bulletin. 

Though not expressly stated, the clear intent and purpose of Protocol 932 is to ease the burden on all pre-hospital and hospital health care workers by not transporting patients with mild symptoms and who meet the stated criteria for non-transport. Keeping these patients at home minimizes the exposure risk for valuable and needed EMS personnel and also helps stop the spread of the disease. 

As always, many thanks to all PA EMS providers and other first responders who are going above and beyond the call of duty to keep us safe!

The material in this newsletter has been prepared for our readers by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. It is solely intended to provide information on recent legal developments, and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship.