Excerpts from cbsnews.com:

Scott Perryman, a battalion chief with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and also a paramedic, put himself through physician assistant school at Stanford. When he went back out into the field, there were a lot of issues he saw as a paramedic that could be treated in the field to prevent a trip to the emergency room.

A lot of 9-1-1 calls were for something as simple as medication, so he decided to pilot a program in Sacramento where Advanced Practice Providers (physician assistants or nurse practitioners) accompany paramedics.

“The beauty of that is it saves the patient from going into the emergency room and spending resources there,” Perryman said. “And saves the hospital because they’re not taking patients that don’t need to be there. So now they can focus on the patients that truly need to be there.”

These APPs can educate patients and prescribe medications, bringing direct and definitive care.

Three hospitals — Sutter Health, Dignity Health and UC Davis — gave $1.1 million to fund the pilot program which is already saving patients, hospitals, and insurance companies money.

“We saw those high utilizers of 9-1-1. We decreased their 9-1-1 use by 55%, saving the system over $350,000 in just a three-month period,” he said.

One area of impact is psychiatric emergencies. “A lot of the time, they have to go the emergency room to be medically cleared before they can go in a psychiatric facility,” Perryman said. “We’re able to do that medical clearance in the field.”

This would get patients the correct care they need the first time to free up paramedics for more critical patients.

Several municipalities in Southern California have instated this program. 

Perryman is now turning to insurance companies to step up funding for the program. He said research from the year-long program is about to be released that will prove it is effective and economical. 

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