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Home News SHA launches new pilot project allowing paramedics to consult a Virtual Triage Physician

SHA launches new pilot project allowing paramedics to consult a Virtual Triage Physician

SHA launches new pilot project allowing paramedics to consult a Virtual Triage Physician
A paramedic treats a patient in the back of an ambulance after receiving a call in Prince Albert. -- Herald file photo.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) launched an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Treatment and Referral pilot project in Saskatoon on Tuesday that expands the scope of practice for paramedics responding to 911 calls.

The project’s goal is to ensure patients receive adequate and timely care, while easing pressures on emergency rooms, according to media release from the SHA.

As part of the pilot, paramedics will have the ability to consult a Virtual Triage Physician for guidance and support in situations where they determine whether a patient could be released or referred to another health-care provider, rather than transporting them to the emergency department.

Only adult patients will be included in the pilot at this time, said the SHA.

“Paramedics have the front-line assessment skills through education and experience to safely treat specific urgent conditions in a patient’s home setting,” said Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley. “By further empowering our frontline health-care workers with innovative and flexible options, we are able to better address patient needs and alleviate emergency room pressures.”

The SHA has identified six initial protocols that will be included as part of the pilot, including hypoglycemia, heat illness, mild to moderate allergic reactions with dissipating symptoms, falls, minor lacerations or abrasions without active bleeding as well as influenza-like illness.

“We are looking forward to the positive impact this new process will have on patient care,” SHA Executive Director of Provincial Services-Community Care Rod MacKenzie said. “This is a great opportunity to better address patient needs while reducing delays for EMS and our hospitals.”

The pilot project will take place in Saskatoon over the next six to 12 months with the participation of Medavie Health Services West. Pending the results of the project, the SHA hopes to expand the pilot through a phased approach to additional ambulance services in Saskatchewan.