The Senate Health and Welfare Committee heard Senate Bill 311 on Monday, a bill clarifying that in the case of certain adults, EMS workers would be considered mandatory reporters of abuse, neglect or exploitation. The law already mandates that EMS workers do so for children.
“We’re often the first people to interact with people in their homes,” said Dave Johnston, immediate past president of the Kansas EMS Association. “We’re able to see incidences of abuse and neglect that might be occurring. Essentially, we’re the eyes and ears of the community. In the state of Kansas, there’s a little over 10,000 EMS providers out among the public. On any given day, we’re running about 980 calls. That’s about 980 opportunities to be into these
different areas where we can witness either abuse or neglect and have the ability to report that on.”
This would make reporting consistent, no matter the age of the victim.
“Many of the services are reporting abuse already for the elderly,” said Johnston. “The concern comes in where we’re passing information on to someone that may not have continuity of care, that passing of protected health information. By firming up this law, it would take away any of those concerns that might exist.”
There was also some question on how quickly such a report can be made.
“I know there’s been some concerns about reporting timeframes,” said Johnston. “For us, it’s really not an issue. We’re already reporting on the child abuse. It’s the same hotline number that would go in, the Kansas Protect Report Center hotline. We’re able to call that in. I work at the busiest EMS service in the state. Our providers have time to make those phone calls for the children. We can make the time to do it for the adults and other ones that encounter this.”
No one testified as neutral or in opposition at Monday’s hearing.