EMS and Home Assessments
National Public Radio recently did a story on Dr. Kevin Munjal, who is in charge of EMS at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York. His idea to put the EMS system in the forefront of preventative medicine is interesting. Rather than the EMTs and paramedics simply picking up or dropping the patients off, they should inspect the home for loose wiring, throw rugs, grab bars etc. and look at the safety of the home to prevent and possibly decrease the need for EMS. And looking longer-term, to allow EMS to choose the best place to bring the patient after an acute event rather than the ER.
Right off the bat, I'll pose a question to the PT community. Does EMS have the knowledge and experience to do home assessments and make a determination on whether the patient is safe to return there?
I doubt many PTs and PTAs are home-assessment certified so what makes us any more expert at home assessments than any other provider of patient care? Not a whole lot, to tell you the truth. If EMS has a checklist like me when I enter a home, they can simply check off whether the patient does or does not have rugs, grab bars, smoke detectors etc. and then recommend the patient makes changes before returning home.
The big difference is whether the patient is able to maneuver around the home safely. This is where our therapy expertise and knowledge come in. The initial assessment would come from EMS, who would refer to therapy if a follow-up is required based on the environment and mobility of the patient. Yes, this could potentially be another referral resource for home health agencies who desire to expand their business.