This bill modernizes Oregon’s emergency medical services (EMS) system by establishing a program and advisory board supported by the advice and technical expertise of advisory committees, which will support regional advisory boards responsible for the development and oversight of regional emergency medical services plans. It also directs the new EMS program to establish and maintain and EMS data system.
Disability Rights Oregon is objecting to Section 14, which makes “all data, including written reports, notes, records and recommendations, received or compiled by the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Board or a regional emergency medical services advisory board… are confidential, privileged, inadmissible, and undiscoverable.” It significantly reduces transparency and accountability for people with disabilities who use emergency medical services in Oregon. When a person with a disability is harmed by the negligent action of an emergency medical service provider, that individual and their family deserves to learn what happened so they can make an informed choice about how they can be made whole. Under the proposed language, an entity that was involved in or tolerated egregious behaviors, such as sexual harassment or neglect, would proceed to hand over information to the Advisory Board and in doing so hide information and evidence—and shield themselves from litigation. We ask the Committee to remove Section 14, however the proposed amendment does not remove this section. Another testimony cited a case in which this happened.
They also ask for the removal of Section 16, which has not happened. “(1) An emergency medical services provider may not be held liable for acting in accordance with approved emergency medical services plans. (2) A person who in good faith provides information to an emergency medical services data system is immune from any civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed with respect to provision of the information.” This section creates a loophole in Oregon’s liability framework by shielding people who act in accordance with approved emergency medical services plans—even when those plans are insufficient to prevent neglect or abuse. Liability laws create an incentive for businesses to prevent harm to patients. This section of HB 4081 undermines the basic concept of liability in Oregon and rebalances incentives in favor of businesses who are negligent, at the cost of people who use emergency medical services. This section will make it more difficult for people with disabilities who are harmed through negligence to get access to justice.