DES PLAINES, Ill. (May 1, 2017) – More than 125 Emergency Nurses Association members will visit Capitol Hill this week advocating for legislation that directly impacts emergency nursing. ENA is urging Congress to continue to allow EMS personnel to administer life-saving medications, improve integration and sharing of best practices between the military and civilian trauma systems, and support the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Accessibility Act. May 3 is the association’s annual Day on the Hill event.
“Day on the Hill is an opportunity for us to educate lawmakers about the issues facing emergency nurses and our patients, particularly as the future of healthcare in this country remains unknown,” said ENA president Karen Wiley, MSN, RN, CEN. “We look forward to discussing solutions to major issues such as the lack of mental health resources and our nations broken trauma care system.”
ENA will advocate for three issues this week, including more mental health resources which has been a major ENA legislative priority the past few years.
Mental health treatment in the U.S. is severely lacking, and as a result, behavioral health patients often turn to emergency departments for care. To provide these patients with the appropriate treatment, emergency nurses are asking their representatives to support the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Accessibility Act (H.R. 1253) which addresses the shortage of treatment facilities for mental health and substance abuse patients. The bill will allow for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide loans and loan guarantees for the construction or renovation of psychiatric and substance abuse treatment facilities.
Another issue ENA is revisiting is support of the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act. The Drug Enforcement Administration indicated it will soon prohibit the continued use of standing orders for EMS personnel to deliver and administer controlled substances. Standing orders are preapproved instructions allowing EMS personnel to perform specific, advanced care and administer certain medications. These orders are implemented when delay in treatment could result in harm or death. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives moved quickly on this ENA priority bill, passing the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act on January 9.
Introduced in the Senate on April 24, this legislation (S. 916) will address this issue by codifying current practices into statute so that EMS personnel do not see any disruption in their ability to provide the best care for patients on a timely basis. S. 916 was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on April 26.
Finally, ENA is supporting the MISSION ZERO Act to improve U.S. trauma care. ENA urges lawmakers to use the military’s success in treating traumatic injury and saving lives to improve the quality of trauma care in the U.S.
The nation’s trauma care system is currently fragmented, operating through a loose network of regional systems with varying degrees of data collection and analysis. Improving coordination and the sharing of best practices between the military and civilian trauma system will improve the ability of trauma centers to optimally treat traumatic injuries.
Day on the Hill attendees will ask their lawmakers to support and cosponsor H.R. 880, the Military Injury Surgical Systems Integrated Operationally Nationwide to Achieve ZERO Preventable Deaths Act (MISSION ZERO Act). ENA members will ask their senators to support and cosponsor the companion bill when it is introduced in the Senate.