Ohio law governing EMS stroke protocols revised to include new guidelines and training



On June 22, 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law Senate Bill 21 (S.B. 21), which amends ORC 4765.401 governing protocols for the assessment, triage and transport to hospitals of stroke patients by emergency medical service (EMS) personnel.

ORC 4765.401 currently requires medical directors or physician advisory boards for each EMS organization to establish and provide written protocols for its EMS personnel to follow when treating and transporting stroke patients.

S.B. 21 amends the law to require the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire and Transportation Services (EMFTS) to develop guidelines for the assessment, triage and transport of stroke patients to hospitals after consultation with a diverse group of hospitals and will require the protocols developed by medical directors or physician advisory boards to be based on these guidelines.

ORC 4765.401 will continue to require EMS organizations to submit copies of its protocols to EMFTS and their respective regional director or regional advisory board but S.B. 21 changes the law to require this to be done annually. Further, S.B. 21 adds the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to the list of recipients who must be submitted these copies.

S.B. 21 also adds the requirement that medical directors or physician advisory boards for each EMS organization provide periodic training for EMS personnel in the assessment and treatment of stroke patients, including assessment of stroke severity. Under ORC 3727.13, ODH recognizes three tiers of hospital stroke level recognitions: comprehensive, primary and acute-ready stroke centers. The training required by S.B. 21 is aimed to improve patient outcomes by reducing delays in care through ensuring proper assessment of an individual’s stroke and severity so that they are transported to the most appropriate stroke center if available versus the nearest hospital and then later transferred to another hospital or stroke center.

Finally S.B. 21 clarifies that immunity from civil liability continues and extends to an EMS organization’s medical director or physician advisory boards for any actions taken under ORC 4765.401.

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