Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz directing hospitals to establish protocols to request the immediate dispatch and timely transport of critically ill patients between health care facilities by specialty care transportation units (SCTU) was signed into law today by Gov. Christie.
SCTUs transport critically ill patients in need of immediate attention between health care facilities (such as hospitals and nursing homes) when patient needs exceed a level of care currently available to them. SCTUs, which are licensed by the Department of Health (DOH), are equipped with advanced life support equipment, including medications, cardiac monitoring devices and ventilators, and are staffed with highly skilled health care professionals.
“Critically ill patients require specialized medical intervention or monitoring that exceeds the expertise and capabilities of a basic life support ambulance and its crew,” explained Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “While these emergency responders provide a valuable service, minutes count and time wasted in dispatch and transport can literally mean the difference between life and death. These at-risk patients need to be transferred to a specialty care facility as expeditiously as possible which is better equipped to handle the patients’ condition.”
The new law (A-792):
- requests immediate dispatch, and timely patient pick-up from the sending hospital, and transport to the receiving hospital by an SCTU used for patient inter-facility transfers;
- establishes contingency SCTU transport protocols in the event that a hospital’s SCTU is not immediately available for dispatch. A hospital that fails to comply will be penalized.
Muñoz’ bill was unanimously approved by both houses of the Legislature.