Flight paramedic scope of practice: Current level and breadth

Todd Hatley, O. John Ma, Nancy Weaver, Donna Strong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study's objective was to determine the current level and breadth of flight paramedic scope of practice. A six-item survey of lead flight paramedics in 158 air medical programs addressed five issues: 1) Certifications required above state certification; 2) Procedures included in scope of practice; 3) Medications flight paramedics are allowed to administer; 4) Requirements needed to expand scope of practice; and 5) Views on establishing a National Flight Paramedic Certification to alter their scope of practice. Eighty programs out of the 90 respondents (89%) stated that they utilize flight paramedics. Of these 80 programs that use flight paramedics, 76 programs (95%) require certification in ACLS, 65 (81%) in PALS, and 50 (63%) in BCLS. Paramedics are allowed to perform cricothyroidotomy in 68 programs (85%), pericardiocentesis in 24 (30%), and tube thoracostomy in 23 (29%). Medications approved for administration include streptokinase in 37 programs (46%), r-TPA in 48 (60%), and succinylcholine in 50 (63%). In 61 programs (76%), the scope of practice is determined solely by the air medical director. Eighteen respondents (23%) believe that the development of a National Flight Paramedic Certification Program would alter their scope of practice. In conclusion, flight paramedic scope of practice varies enormously. Since most medical directors have the authority to alter flight paramedic scope of practice and few programs believe that a National Flight Paramedic Certification would alter their practice, medical directors should work directly with flight paramedics to expand their scope of practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-735
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 1998

Keywords

  • Air medical transport
  • EMS direction
  • Flight paramedic
  • Scope of practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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