New ED call changes ease the way for patients, physicians and caregivers

Author: Ray Moreno, M.D., chief medical officer, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center; member, Oregon Medical Executive Committee

It’s important to talk about emergency department call within the framework of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) because they are so closely related. By federal mandate, EMTALA ensures timely access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. EMTALA violations are serious and include significant fines for both the involved providers and the hospitals.

The Providence Oregon Medical Executive Committee has been carefully reviewing issues related to ED call during the past year. The committee’s goal always is to improve efficiencies and create standardized processes throughout Providence Oregon to continually improve care for our patients.

To support our patients, caregivers and providers, the committee has made three important changes:

1. New operating policy

Our new general operating policy – Emergency Call Physician Obligations – is an excellent reference for when questions arise related to ED call. This new policy is in addition to the current ED language in the PHSOR Professional Staff Policies and Procedures. 

2. ED on-call schedules per hospital

Each hospital’s medical executive committee has reviewed the list of ED on-call specialties for approval. We have restructured Amcom so that each ministry has an “ED on-call schedules” folder.

Per EMTALA guidelines, each specialist listed in this folder must be an M.D. or D.O. Additional information is provided, including full names and contact information. The Providence Regional Medical Staff office team manages these schedules and ensures accuracy, consistency and timeliness when posting schedules and making changes.

3. New system for managing last-minute and after-hours changes

The hospital PBX operators at Providence St. Vincent now will handle requests for last-minute or after-hours changes to a physician’s ED on-call schedule for all Providence Oregon hospitals (not just Providence St. Vincent). Operators will communicate these changes to our regional medical staff office to ensure the schedule is updated.

The regional medical staff team will continue to process changes during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays) and will be responsible for maintaining the ED on-call schedules for Providence Oregon.

How to make changes in your ED on-call schedule

  • If you’re on call at any Providence Oregon hospital and need to make a change outside of normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays), during holidays, on weekends, or the same day you are scheduled for on-call duty, contact the operators at PSVMC.
  • If you need to make a change during normal business hours (weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), not on holidays, and at least one day before the change will occur, contact the regional medical staff team at:

Thank you for the excellent care you provide to our patients. We hope these changes improve the care for ED patients and ease the way for our physicians and caregivers. 

About the Author

The Pulse content team focuses on bringing you the latest in clinical news from our world-class medical providers and physician leaders.

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