The National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials (NASESMO) recently disseminated the 2018 draft update to the 2007 National EMS Scope of Practice Model and opened it for comments. While there was a strong reaction to one small line of the 27 page document, the possible exclusion of endotracheal intubation, there is much more to the document and open to comment.
This is my comment on Oral Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medication:
Oral Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medication should be included in the National EMS Scope of Practice Model for all certification levels.
As the draft noted from lines #485-494, EMS personnel have filled a gap in the delivery of medical service in a variety of non-traditional areas. These include industrial settings, frontier areas, and in the provision of event medical services. The exclusion of Oral OTC Medication from the EMS Scope of Practice hinders EMS personnel from filling in those gaps in the non-traditional areas where customers request commonly used OTC Medications.
These medications, when taken as per the directions printed on the bottle/packet, are able to provide relief for a variety of minor ailments. These medications are made readily available in pharmacies, convenience stores, and sundry shops. They do not require a physician’s prescription for the general public to attain and self-administer.
This is not a case where the medication is being injected or administered directly from the EMS provider to the customer. This is simply helping the customer to self-medicate based on their ailment and preferred treatment. It is important to note that EMS personnel “administering” Oral OTC Medication to customers requesting it is more an act of “dispensing” the medication with the customer self-administering the requested medication, the same as they would do in their own home.
The fact is that a customer can be denied Oral OTC Medication from EMS personnel because it is not within the EMS Scope of Practice. The same customer can walk into any pharmacy, convenience store, or sundry shop and be provided that same Oral OTC Medication from a clerk with no medical training, certifications, or qualifications other than being employed to provide service to the customer. This oversight is both a disservice to the EMS customer and devalues the training and education that EMS personnel go through.
This is a long overdue inclusion to the Scope of Practice and I hope to see its inclusion in the final version.
I would encourage you to read the National EMS Scope of Practice Model Revision 2018 draft and leave your own comments here for consideration by NASEMSO.