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Response in Emergencies
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SC State Laws and Regulations Governing the Ability of Physician Assistants to Provide Medical Response in Disasters and Emergencies

 

Provided by the AAPA Government Affairs Office 10/10/09

South Carolina

 

In February of 2002 the Board of Medical Examiners adopted a policy regarding physicians, physician assistants, respiratory care practitioners and anesthesiologist’s assistants licensed out-of-state providing medical care in a disaster or medical emergency declared by the governor. That policy utilized the Southern Regional Emergency Management Compact that was in effect June 4, 1996. The Board has now adopted the following as policy:

In July 2002 the Homeland Security Act (Act 339 of 2002) package was passed in South Carolina . This included The Emergency Health Powers Act. Section 44-4-570 of that Act addressed the licensing of out-of-state health care personnel during a declared state of emergency. It essentially provides for the licensing boards, in coordination with DHEC and LLR, to prescribe the duties of out-of-state emergency health care providers and waive any or all licensing requirements and fees so they may provide immediate assistance during a declared state of emergency. A Memorandum of Understanding between LLR and DHEC allows utilization of out-of-state health care providers as may be necessary during a declared public health emergency or disaster. The previous policy utilizing the Southern Regional Emergency Management Compact is superseded by the current Emergency Health Powers Act. This new law allows the pool of available resources to be expanded beyond the regional member states by allowing health care providers from any state to assist in South Carolina in a declared public health emergency.

 

2002 Policy

 

In order to provide for necessary coverage in the event of a disaster or medical emergency declared by the Governor of South Carolina, the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners has established the following policy regarding physicians, physician assistants, respiratory care practitioners and anesthesiologist’s assistants outside of and unlicensed in South Carolina, to provide medical care without requiring a South Carolina license.

The South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners desires to ensure that a lack of current state licensing does not interfere with providing medical expertise in the volume and quality required for declared medical emergencies or disasters.

 

The Southern Regional Emergency Management Compact (S.C. Code Ann. § 25-9-420, Article V (Supp. 2001)), effective June 4, 1996, generally allows medical professionals, among others, licensed in another Compact state to practice their profession in this state without a South Carolina license upon request and during a declared emergency or disaster, subject to such limitations and conditions as the Governor may prescribe. Current members of the Compact include Florida, , North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia .

Licensure in another Compact state should be verified by examination of the individual’s current license (wallet card or other license identification) by the medical director or other responsible authority.

After the immediate emergency has passed, professionals generally must comply with the usual licensing requirements in this state.

 

Board of Medical Examiners, Disaster Preparedness Policy for Physician Assistants, 2003

 

 

"Health care provider” means any person or entity who provides health care services including, but not limited to, hospitals, medical clinics and offices, special care facilities, medical laboratories, physicians, pharmacists, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered and other nurses, paramedics, firefighters who provide emergency medical care, emergency medical or laboratory technicians, and ambulance and emergency medical workers. This includes out-of-state medical laboratories, provided that such laboratories have agreed to the reporting requirements of South Carolina. Results must be reported by the laboratory that performs the test, but an in-state laboratory that sends specimens to an out-of-state laboratory is also responsible for reporting results.

 

S.C. code Ann. § 44-4-130(L)

(Emergency Health Powers Chapter)

 

 

(A) DHEC, in coordination with the appropriate licensing authority and the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, may exercise, for such period as the state of public health emergency exists, in addition to existing emergency powers, the following emergency powers regarding licensing of health personnel:

(1) to require in-state health care providers to assist in the performance of vaccination, treatment, examination, or testing of any individual as a condition of licensure, authorization, or the ability to continue to function as a health care provider in this State;

(2) to accept the volunteer services of in-state and out-of-state health care providers consistent with Title 8, Chapter 25, to appoint such in-state and out-of-state health care providers as emergency support function volunteers, and to prescribe the duties as may be reasonable and necessary for emergency response; and

(3) to authorize the medical examiner or coroner to appoint and prescribe the duties of such emergency assistant medical examiners or coroners as may be required for the proper performance of the duties of the office.

 

(B)(1) The appointment of in-state and out-of-state health care providers pursuant to this section may be for a limited or unlimited time but must not exceed the termination of the state of public health emergency. DHEC may terminate the in-state and out-of-state appointments at any time or for any reason provided that any termination will not jeopardize the health, safety, and welfare of the people of this State.

(2) The appropriate licensing authority may waive any or all licensing requirements, permits, or fees required by law and applicable orders, rules, or regulations for health care providers from other jurisdictions to practice in this State.

 

(C)(1) Any health care provider appointed by the department pursuant to this section must not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of medical care or treatment including, but not limited to, trauma care and triage assessment, related to the appointment of the health care provider and the prescribed duties unless the damages result from providing, or failing to provide, medical care or treatment under circumstances demonstrating a reckless disregard for the consequences so as to affect the life or health of the patient.

(2) This subsection applies if the health care provider does not receive payment from the State other than as allowed in Section 8-25-40 for the appointed services and prescribed duties. However, if the health care provider is an employee of the State, the health care provider may continue to receive compensation from the health care provider's employer. This subsection applies whether the health care provider was paid, should have been paid, or expected to be paid for the services at the time of rendering the services from sources including, but not limited to, Medicaid, Medicare, reimbursement under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 512, et seq., or private health insurance.

 

(D)(1) The appointment of emergency assistant medical examiners or coroners pursuant to this section may be for a limited or unlimited time, but must not exceed the termination of the state of public health emergency. The medical examiner or coroner may terminate the emergency appointments at any time or for any reason, if the termination will not impede the performance of the duties of the office.

(2) The medical examiner or coroner may waive any or all licensing requirements, permits, or fees required by law and applicable orders, rules, or regulations for the performance of these duties.

(3) Any emergency assistant medical examiner or coroner appointed pursuant to this section is immune from civil liability for damages resulting from services relating to and performed during the period of appointment unless the damages result from providing, or failing to provide, services under circumstances demonstrating a reckless disregard for the consequences.

 

S.C. code Ann. § 44-4-570

(Emergency Health Powers Chapter)


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