911 nurses idea floated as cost saving measure

    City Controller Alan Butkovitz wants Philadelphia to incorporate nurses into its 911 call centers to save money and lives.

    City Controller Alan Butkovitz wants Philadelphia to incorporate nurses into its 911 call centers to save money and lives. In a recently released report, Butkovitz says having nurses help sort emergency calls from non-life-threatening situations could save $2.6 million per year and prevent a lot of unnecessary ambulance responses. One local emergency room nurse says the system could work.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090422lfems.mp3]

    Sandra Dietrich knows a thing or two about treating medical emergencies. The Clinical Director for Emergency Services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has worked as an emergency nurse for more than 30 years.

    Dietrich says in face-to-face consultations medical professionals look for signs of health or illness by a patient’s vital signs and appearance.

    Dietrich: I do have concerns about liability because it does happen – the complaint may not be presented as clearly as you would like to hear it and the nurse may interpret it as being non-emergent when it really is.

    Dietrich says the system of having nurses evaluate emergency calls could work as long as every patient who calls for help is transported to the hospital.

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