Ontario might let paramedics take patients to facilities other than ERs

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TORONTO — Ontario is proposing to allow paramedics to take some patients to facilities other than hospital emergency departments, or simply treat them on scene.

Under the proposals, ambulances would not respond to 911 callers with “low acuity” complaints.

The planned changes, posted this week on the province’s regulatory registry, would be phased in.

Initially, paramedics would be able to take patients in crisis to a mental health facility rather than to an emergency room.

The government says doing so will help alleviate hospital overcrowding.

Health-care professionals such as nurses at ambulance communication centres might also be allowed to provide clinical advice to some callers.

Ontario’s spring budget mentioned that the government would explore allowing paramedics to take patients to facilities other than the emergency department, and the previous Liberal government had said in 2017 it was going to make that change.

The Canadian Press