Medical Direction of Emergency Medical Services

Reaffirmed April 2012

Revised April 2005

Reaffirmed October 2001

Revised titled, "Medical Direction of Emergency Medical Services" September 1997

Revised titled, "Medical Direction of Prehospital Emergency Medical Services" October 1992, November 1987

Originally approved as a policy statement titled, "Medical Control of Prehospital Emergency Medical Services" April 1984 

As an adjunct to this policy statement, ACEP's EMS Committee has prepared a Policy Resource and Education Paper (PREP) entitled "Medical Direction of Prehospital Emergency Medical Services"

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) believes that all aspects of the organization and provision of basic (including first responder) and advanced life support emergency medical services (EMS) require the active involvement and participation of physicians. ACEP also believes that EMS must have an identifiable physician medical director at the local, regional, and state level.

The primary role of the medical director is to ensure quality patient care. Responsibilities include involvement with the ongoing design, operation, evaluation and revision of the EMS system from initial patient access to definitive patient care.

Each EMS system should ensure that the medical director has authority over patient care, authority to limit immediately the patient care activities of those who deviate from established standards or do not meet training standards, and the responsibility and authority to develop and implement medical policies and procedures. The EMS medical director's qualifications, responsibilities, and authority must be delineated in writing within each EMS system. Ideally, the EMS medical director will be a board-certified emergency physician. The EMS system has an obligation to provide the EMS medical director with the resources, authority, and compensation commensurate with these responsibilities.

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