Last month, the Burlington County Times reported that the Delran, NJ Emergency Squad had its licensed suspended by the New Jersey Department of Health.
Their chief would ride a long and treat patients on a regular basis. What's wrong with that you ask? Nothing, except his EMT license had been expired since December of 2010.
To cover their tracks, the squad would then alter trip reports to claim that only credentialed employees had done the runs.
It’s likely that the Delran Emergency Squad will lose their license and have to disband. The Department of Health will also most likely not allow another agency to operate their service as branded as Delran Emergency Squad. DES was also a statewide training agency, meaning that they were responsible for training and preparing new EMTs for certification. The DOH investigation is looking into this as well.
This story highlights the fact that EMS squads and private companies can get into really serious trouble if they don’t take their personnel credentialing seriously. Not only is it potentially putting patients at risk, it also opens the squad up to tremendous liability.
Because EMS squads often bill the federal government for services (Medicare and Medicaid), they are required to meet a certain set of standards and protocols to do so. Failure to abide by these standards could mean severe penalties.
When you bill for trips without the required crew members it can be considered a false claim. If found guilty of submitting false claims, you can be liable for a civil penalty of not less than $10,781 or not more than $21,563 plus three times the amount of the false claim.
Billing for services that were staffed by unlicensed staff members might mean that the Delran Squad is on the hook to return ALL of the Medicare payments they received when the chief rode along for the trips.
All towns, or the outsourced providers they employ, should have strict rules about licensing, re-certification, in-service classes and all necessary parts of making sure their staff members have the proper credentials.
The NJ Department of Health's website allows you to search for an EMT's credentials by name. If you are aware that someone has lost or not updated their EMT certification, by going to the site and entering their first and last name, you can verify whether or not someone possess a valid cert.
Here in NJ there's a 3-year window in which you must obtain your continuing education credits in order to maintain your cert. You'll need three core classes, refreshers A, B, and C and 24 approved elective credits. If you do not provide proof of all classes you cannot renew.
The DOH's website also answers all questions related to renewals and how to access classes. You can see your transcripts, request replacement cards and get current and accurate information regarding BLS protocols.
If you or someone you know has questions or concerns about EMT licensing in New Jersey, our customer care specialists are happy to help at any time. You can reach us at (908) 298 9500.