Emergency medical services (EMS) are an essential component of health care in Texas. The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) licensing and oversight of EMS personnel and providers helps ensure EMS care provided is safe and meets expected standards. Oversight activities include addressing complaints and conducting investigations, both of which are important measures of quality assurance in the ongoing assessment of EMS.
The importance of emergency medical services (EMS) is immeasurable. Dedicated EMS personnel save countless lives each year. In Texas, EMS personnel respond to a call on an average of every seven seconds. Texas EMS professionals are ready to respond to calls for help, despite the time of day or weather conditions.
Amendments to Health and Safety Code Sections 773.05711, 773.05712, and 773.05713 as a result of S.B.8 and H.B.3556, 83rd Legislature, Regular Session, 2013, as well as administrative actions by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Texas Medical Board, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and DSHS have had a notable impact on EMS providers. These changes were intended to address fraud in the EMS industry and growth in the number of private EMS providers in Texas. More stringent requirements were placed on applicants for initial provider licensure and for existing providers applying for renewal licensure. DSHS, in cooperation with federal and state partners, will continue to monitor the EMS system in Texas and act as appropriate to reduce fraud and prevent an oversupply of EMS provider agencies within the industry.
Because it is crucial for the public to have confidence in EMS, Texas maintains an active system to receive and investigate complaints regarding EMS providers, personnel, and related functions. The number of complaints received and those which needed disciplinary action are low.
Emergency Medical Services Provider Licensing Requirements Report
The EMS Provider Licensing Requirements Report is required by Texas Health and Safety Code Section 773.05713. This report includes information about EMS applications received and disciplinary actions taken against EMS providers between September 1, 2020, and August 31, 2022. The report must include:
- The total number of applications for EMS provider licenses submitted to DSHS and the number of applications for which licenses were issued or licenses were denied by DSHS.
- The number of EMS provider licenses that were suspended or revoked by DSHS for violations of those sections and a description of the types of violations that led to the license suspension or revocation.
- The number of occurrences and types of fraud committed by licensed EMS providers related to those sections.
- The number of complaints made against licensed EMS providers for violations of those sections and a description of the types of complaints.
- The status of any coordination efforts of DSHS and the Texas Medical Board related to those sections.
Emergency Medical Services Complaints and Investigations Report
Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 773.0605 requires the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to track and record any complaints received regarding emergency medical services (EMS) providers and EMS personnel, as well as the investigations and disciplinary actions initiated by DSHS under the Emergency Health Care Act. DSHS must track and refer complaints outside its jurisdiction to other agencies. Statute also requires DSHS to report specific information related to complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions every year.
Complaints are reports received in writing, verbally, or initiated by DSHS staff that allege a licensee has violated one or more of the statutes, Health and Safety Code, Chapter 773 and/or rules, Texas Administrative Code, Part 1, Chapter 157 governing EMS practice. A complaint determined to be within DSHS’ jurisdiction is investigated. If the investigation shows a violation happened, disciplinary action can be initiated. This disciplinary action can range from a letter of reprimand to revoking a license or certification. The action can also include assessing an administrative penalty.
This report is divided into sections by each of the five license types: emergency medical services (EMS) provider (agency), EMS personnel, EMS education programs, EMS educators, and EMS first responder organizations. If a complaint about an EMS provider includes a complaint about their personnel, the portion of the complaint dealing with personnel is detailed as a separate complaint under the EMS personnel license or certification.
The data include:
The number of complaints received during the fiscal year,
Source of the complaint,
Primary reason and basis alleged for each complaint,
Number of cases left open at the end of the fiscal year,
Reason cases were closed including those closed with no action taken, and
The number of disciplinary actions taken during the fiscal year.