Complaints

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The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), EMS Compliance Group, investigates complaints made against Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, EMS providers, EMS first responder organizations, EMS education programs, EMS course coordinators, and EMS instructors, that involve possible violations of the Emergency Healthcare Act at Chapter 773 of the Health and Safety Code  and Department’s EMS Rules at Chapter 157 of the Texas Administrative  Code .

Who can file a complaint?

How do I file a complaint?

What information is needed to file a complaint?

Can I remain anonymous if I file a complaint?

How are complaints investigated?

Will I be told the status of my complaint?

What are the most common complaints?

How long does it take to investigate a complaint?

What types of disciplinary action could be imposed?

 


Who can file a complaint?

Anyone can. Complaints can be filed against any of the following certificants/licensees:

  • EMS providers (company)
  • EMS initial education programs
  • EMS continuing education programs
  • EMS personnel (Emergency Care Attendant [ECA], Emergency Medical Technician [EMT]- Basic, EMT-Paramedic, Licensed Paramedic)
  • EMS educator (Instructor and Course Coordinator)

How do I file a complaint?

Complaints may be filed by completing a DSHS complaint form and submitting to the EMS Compliance Group by:

  • Email: EMS_Complaint@dshs.state.tx.us
  • Fax:  (512) 821-4510
  • Mail: Mail Code-2822, Texas Department of State Health Services, Attn: EMS Complaints, PO Box 149347, Austin, Texas 78714-9347

The DSHS Complaint Form is available to either download (PDF, Word) or requesting a copy to be sent by calling 800-452-6086.

What information is needed to file a complaint?

Please be specific! Provide the Who, What, Where and How! Any relevant information pertinent to the incident is necessary to investigate any alleged misconduct. In order to determine if a violation has occurred, it is important that DSHS gather as much information as possible such as date(s), time(s), and location(s) of the alleged incident(s) and the names, addresses, phone numbers of any witnesses and the EMS personnel and providers involved, including any ambulance unit identification numbers and Department certification/license numbers of EMS personnel and/or providers involved.

To view and obtain certification/license numbers and check on the current status of EMS personnel, providers, first responder organizations, or EMS education programs, etc. go to www.dshs.state.tx.us/emstraumasystems/newcert.shtm. Click on “Public License Search”.

Can I remain anonymous if I file a complaint?

Yes. You do not have to provide your name when filing a complaint.  However, if you do wish to remain anonymous, DSHS may be unable to substantiate that a violation occurred if sufficient information is not initially provided, and DSHS is unable to follow up due to the anonymity of the complainant.  Nor will the complainant be able to follow up and obtain information related to the status of any possible pending investigation, initiated as a result of his/her complaint.

How are complaints investigated?

DSHS will first determine if it has jurisdiction to act on the complaint.

Next, the complaint is reviewed to determine if a violation has possibly occurred under the EMS Act Chapter 773 of the Health Safety Code  and/or EMS rules found under Chapter 157 of the Texas Administrative Code. Unless the complaint was filed anonymously, the complainant should receive a complaint acknowledgment letter that includes a tracking number, contact name and phone number.

If the complaint is jurisdictional and possible violations have occurred, a formal investigation will be opened and assigned to an investigator.

In most cases, the investigator assigned will notify the person or entity under investigation to gather additional information.  This process is generally conducted by mail, email or phone interviews and at times on-site visits are performed. 

All investigative materials and information developed in an investigation is confidential and privileged by statute, and may not be released, even to the complainant. 

Once the investigation is completed, the case is reviewed by the Enforcement Review Committee (ERC) to determine if a violation occurred and what disciplinary action should be taken, if any.  If not filed anonymously, the complainant should receive a complaint closure letter informing them whether the complaint was substantiated or not.

Will I Be Told the Status of my Complaint?

All final enforcement actions that are imposed by DSHS can be viewed on the DSHS EMS enforcement action website.

What Are the Most Common Complaints?

The most common complaints within DSHS’s jurisdiction are:

For EMS Providers

  • Patient Care Issues/Protocol violations
  • Non-certifed/Expired personnel
  • Equipment/Supplies/Medication deficiencies
  • Failure to resolve or follow-up complaints from customers

For EMS Certificants/Licensees

  • Patient care issues/Protocol violations
  • Practicing with an expired certification/license
  • Drug diversion
  • Criminal conduct
  • Documentation/Patient care report issues
  • Unprofessional conduct which might endanger the public

Examples of complaints that DO NOT fall under its jurisdiction are:

  • Billing issues (rates/collection procedures).  These complaints should be referred to the Texas Attorney General’s Office Consumer Complaints Division.
  • Rudeness- This issue should be directed directly to the EMS certified/licensed personnel’s employer.
  • Public Health Information Violations/HIPAA- These issues can be reported to US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
  • Complaints against licensed professionals or facilities other than EMS personnel, EMS providers or other EMS entities.  Such complaints should be directed to the appropriate state licensing agency or other regulatory programs of the Department.

How long does it take to investigate a complaint?

The amount of time varies for each investigation and is dependent on a myriad of factors including the complexity of a case and circumstances that may be out of the control of the investigator or the EMS personnel, provider, and or other EMS entities under investigation.

What types of disciplinary actions could be imposed?

The following are actions that can be imposed by DSHS:

  • Close- Dismissed due to insufficient evidence that a violation occurred
  • Close- Substantiated/no disciplinary action warranted (DSHS accepts licensee’s plan of correction or internal remediation)
  • Reprimand
  • Administrative Penalty/Fine (EMS provider only)
  • Suspension/Probated Suspension
  • Revocation of certification/license

DSHS may impose an emergency suspension of a certificate or license, if there is reasonable cause to believe that the conduct of a certificate or license holder creates an imminent danger to the public health and safety.  In such instances emergency suspension may be imposed separately from any proposed disciplinary action based upon the same conduct.

 

 

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Last updated January 21, 2014