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Consumers experiencing a medical emergency are often subjected to unnecessary risks for personal injury and/or malpractice when the agency responding to the call is staffed by untrained or unqualified personnel. An investigative report published by the Sacramento Bee recently exposed a troubling lack of oversight by a state agency in the area of licensing and certification of paramedics.

The detection of paramedic certification fraud is often hit and miss, due says the Emergency Medical Services Authority (the state agency that oversees paramedics), to a lack of resources. The agency says it is ill equipped to scrutinize an estimated 500 license applications and renewals each month. Dr. Cesar Aristeiguieta, director of the state Emergency Medical Services Authority, acknowledges his agency has been slow to respond to reports of paramedic certification fraud.

License fraud is not a large problem in California according to Aristeiguieta. However, according to The Bee, those incidences of fraud that have been uncovered appear to have come to the attention of authorities almost by accident. The fraud most often becomes known when an employer does a background check or someone reports a colleague. Despite the various written policies cited as safeguards by the E.M.S.A., responsibility for unearthing the fraud usually falls to local public health agencies, fire departments and private ambulance companies. This lack of critical review by a state agency suggests that the instances of fraud may be far greater than the state believes.

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