Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Richard Hudson (NC-08) and G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) released the following statements after President Donald Trump signed into law their bipartisan bill, the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act (H.R. 304).
“I’m thrilled to see this important fix signed into law,” said Representative Hudson. “This is an example of how to get things done — finding common ground and advancing bipartisan solutions to get results people deserve.”
“The passage of this law will help save lives by ensuring people have access to medications in emergencies,” said Representative Butterfield. “The goal is that first responders will have the tools to help people in life-threatening emergencies and enable individuals to receive the best care possible. This bill is important for my constituents in North Carolina, particularly those living in rural areas, who become sick or injured in remote areas and must be stabilized to travel to the nearest hospital."
Representatives Hudson and Butterfield re-introduced the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act in January 2017. The bill was sent to the Senate following House passage on January 9, 2017. After a few minor technical changes, the bill passed the Senate on October 24, 2017. The bill then passed the House on November 3, 2017 and was signed into law on Friday, November 17, 2017. Representatives Hudson and Butterfield have been lauded for their bipartisanship, with The Wilson Times saying of the two, “there are thoughtful, hardworking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle working mightily to fix what’s broken.”
H.R. 304 clarifies existing law to allow emergency medical responders to administer controlled substances, such as pain narcotics and anti-seizure medications, under the supervision of a physician. Without this solution, quality emergency care may suffer and patients may be endangered simply because law and regulation have not kept up with the evolution of modern medicine. H.R. 304 ensures patients will continue to receive these vital medications by codifying the practice of standing orders by a physician Medical Director for the administration and delivery of controlled substances, maintaining physician oversight of medical decisions, while making the EMS Agency liable for the receiving, storing, and tracking of controlled substances, similar to current procedure at hospitals.
This critical legislation is supported by several emergency medicine advocacy groups and professional organizations, including:
"NAEMSP applauds legislation led by Representatives Richard Hudson, G.K. Butterfield and Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. and Michael Bennett that Congress passed ensuring that life-saving EMS professionals are able to deliver emergency medication to the patients that so desperately need them," said Brent Myers, MD, MPH, FACP, FAEMS, President, National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP). "Without this solution, quality emergency care and patients would have been endangered simply because law and regulation have not kept up with the evolution of modern medicine. This is an important clarification of law that allows our first responders to continue administering life-saving medications to patients when they need them most."
“The ability to use controlled substances in the prehospital setting as appropriate is essential to saving lives, managing pain and improving health outcomes,” said Paul D. Kivela, MD, MBA, FACEP, President, American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “This legislation will help protect the role of EMS medical directors and ability of first responders to treat patients with appropriate and necessary medication.”
“NAEMT is extremely pleased President Trump has signed H.R. 304 – the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017 into law,” said Dennis Rowe, President, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT). “We are very grateful for the commitment, leadership, and perseverance of House and Senate sponsors, Congressmen Richard Hudson (R-NC) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), for shepherding this bill through the legislative process and ultimately into law. H.R. 304 will ensure access to vital emergency medications for patients when they need it most and ensure that our care is not compromised.”
“This legislation will ensure our EMS professionals can continue to administer lifesaving medications as quickly as they are able to reach and assess a patient, saving valuable minutes in emergency situations,” said Karen Wiley, MSN, RN, CEN, President, Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). “This is an important bill and I commend Rep. Hudson for his hard work to improve the care received by countless EMS patients.”
"Enactment of H.R. 304 ensures that paramedics, EMTs and other emergency medical professionals may continue to administer vital and often life-saving medications to patients," said Mark Postma, President, American Ambulance Association (AAA). “The AAA applauds Congressmen Hudson and Butterfield and Senators Cassidy and Bennet for their successful efforts on this critical issue."
“Utilizing standing orders to deliver life-saving EMS medications rapidly remains an important cornerstone of effective pre-hospital emergency medical care,” said Harold A. Schaitberger, General President, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). “We applaud Representatives Hudson and Butterfield for their laser-focused attention on correcting a bureaucratic hindrance that had the potential to delay the safe administration of life-saving medicines to Americans suffering from serious medical conditions.”
“The IAFC applauds Representative Hudson for his leadership on this important public safety issue,” said Chief Thomas Jenkins, President and Chairman of the Board, International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). “This bill’s protection of standing orders would allow firefighters and paramedics to administer lifesaving medicine to their critically ill and injured patients without delay or concern for prohibitive regulatory action.”
Last Congress, the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act passed the House with unanimous support, but did not make it to the Senate floor.