Mayor Vincent C. Gray today introduced a “Patient Bill of Rights” that has been developed and implemented by the District of Columbia’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) Department.
“The men and women of the District’s a Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department strive to provide the best possible service each and every day,” Mayor Gray said. “In concert with a strategic plan we have developed and to implement the comprehensive recommendations of the EMS Task Force, the DC Fire and EMS Department has made, and will continue to make, system-wide improvements and operational adjustments. A ‘Bill of Rights’ for each patient is one of these improvements.”
Annually, FEMS responds to about 160,000 emergency calls for service. Over 130,000, or 80 percent, of these calls are medical in nature. FEMS has employed several solutions to problems with the system, including the “Street Calls” program, which identifies those patients who call frequently and regularly. This program finds other solutions than a transport to the emergency room and has resulted in a 50 percent reduction of repeat transports for patients involved in the program. In an effort to measure customer or patient satisfaction with FEMS, recent surveys or customer-satisfaction ratings among patients transported indicates that 95 percent were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with EMS delivery and service.
To bring these efforts full circle and help clarify patients’ expectations, Acting DC Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe recently approved the implementation of the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Patient Bill of Rights. All patients have the right to expect: competent and compassionate service from FEMS, including timely and appropriate medical services; to be transported in a clean and properly maintained ambulance; that FEMS will never refuse to transport them; that FEMS personnel will check vital signs; that FEMS personnel will protect health information; that FEMS personnel will dress and act in a professional manner; that FEMS personnel will explain what is being done to assist patients; that FEMS personnel will be polite, compassionate, considerate and respectful; and that a patient’s privacy and comfort will be of utmost concern to FEMS personnel.
These tenets, formally known as the FEMS “Patient Bill of Rights,” will be posted in every ambulance in the District of Columbia.