Oversight board urged for medical rescue work Move would reduce UM's dominance

December 02, 1992|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,Staff Writer

Seeking neutral territory for Maryland's emergency medical services, a gubernatorial commission has proposed that Gov. William Donald Schaefer appoint a board that would have authority over all aspects of medical rescue work.

The move would effectively take that authority away from the University of Maryland, which some critics say has the unique power to steer injured patients toward its affiliated hospitals -- especially, the private Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Dr. James D'Orta, chairman of a 14-member commission, said yesterday that a final report spelling out details of the proposal will not be ready for a few weeks. But he said the group reached a consensus Monday that could ease some of the tensions that have gripped the emergency medical community for much of this year.

He said the commission wanted an independent body responsible for the disbursement of $26 million in state funds that help pay for helicopter rescues and the training of field personnel. The money is generated by an $8 charge attached to renewals of motor vehicle registrations.

"We need to have some accountability," he said. "We're trying to devise a system that would be an advocate for the citizens of Maryland."

But the proposal seemed motivated at least as much by criticism that an emergency medical system dominated by the University of Maryland could not ensure a fair distribution of sick and injured patients to hospitals throughout the state. Emergency patients mean dollars, and hospitals view them as essential to their financial viability.

The proposal will require the approval of both the governor and the state legislature. The state's Emergency Medical Services Systems is the agency that regulates all ambulance and helicopter rescues and the care provided by emergency rooms.

Day-to-day operation of emergency medical services would remain the responsibility of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, an agency folded within the interlocking structures of the University of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System.

The chief difference is that the gubernatorial panel, functioning much like a board of directors, would have final authority.

The Shock Trauma Center, which treats some of the state's most seriously injured patients, would remain a part of the University of Maryland Medical System.

Dr. Kimball Maull, chief of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, would report directly to the gubernatorial board on matters relating to the statewide system of emergency care.

Dr. Maull, who is a member of the commission issuing the report, said the proposal seems like a good one because it wouldn't upset the system of emergency medicine. Rather, it would add a new layer of authority providing greater accountability. "To reconstitute it some other way at this point in time would not be a wise thing to do," he said.

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