Accreditation for Air Ambulances
Welcome to the fifth installment in our Air Medical Resource series about the Air Ambulance. This resource attempts to compile some basic information surrounding accreditation for air medical services. The information and links below may be of use to both patients and operators of air ambulance programs desiring to become accredited alike.
Air Ambulance Accreditation
On a national level, accreditation for US air ambulance services is technically voluntary. Some states, however, require that air medical transportation services be accredited through CAMTS (or a state equivalent) in order to operate.
To attain “fully accredited” status, air ambulance companies must volunteer for (and pass) a rigorous review of all areas of their service. This thorough process includes site inspections, reviews of manuals and files, personnel interviews, and examinations of many different criteria. The majority of air ambulance services in the United States do not have full CAMTS accreditation.
What is CAMTS?
CAMTS (Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems) is a collective of non-profit organizations that audits and accredits air medical transport services in the US, as well as services in other countries who choose to voluntarily undergo review.
CAMTS established a set of specific criteria that are used to judge whether an air ambulance program is worthy of gaining accredited status. These criteria are refered to as the Accreditation Standards. These standards treat “patient care and safety of the transport environment” as the most important priorities for air medical services.
How Does an Air Ambulance Become Accredited?
To be accredited, an air ambulance service needs to be in “substantial compliance” with the Accreditation Standards.
CAMTS.org defines this as:
A medical transport system demonstrates overall quality of service consistent with the essential elements of Accreditation Standards and the professional judgement of the Board. The service demonstrates a steady balance in all dynamic components which comprise their specific program.
Some states in the U.S. have adopted the CAMTS Accreditation Standards for their own licensing standards. At the time of this writing, this list (may not be complete) includes air ambulance services in:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
According to the CAMTS website, there are 149 accredited services as of July 20, 2012.
Benefits of Accreditation
Full accreditation is a badge of quality for air ambulance services, indicating that the service meets the highest standards of an air medical transport service. Assurance of this level of service quality is first of benefit to the patients who utilize air ambulance services. But there are clear benefits for the services themselves as well.
Though the review process takes some time and costs some money upfront, it can help an air ambulance program to distinguish itself both to and to potential utilizers of air medical services. There can be valuable fringe benefits for air medical programs that become fully accredited as well — for just one example, some insurance companies are more likely to use services that are accredited.
For more information on accreditation for air ambulance services, visit the following link:
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