The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS)
), is an independent, non-profit agency which audits and accredits fixed-wing and rotary wing air medical transport services as well as ground inter-facility critical care services in the U.S. to a set of industry-established criteria. CAMTS has accredited 132 medical transport programs in the U.S. as of June, 2007 as well as three in Canada and one in South Africa.
CAMTS first enacted its Accreditation Standards in 1991, which were developed by its member organizations as well as with extensive public comment and input. The Standards are the core element to the CAMTS program, which delares that the highest priorities for medical transport services companies are "patient care and safety of the transport environment".
CAMTS accreditation, once granted, lasts for three years, at which time it can be renewed by being reaudited. Preparation for initial accreditation generally takes from four to six months,, as the process examines all aspects of operations, from management to medical protocals to flight operations.
CAMTS' member organizations
CAMTS is an "organization of organizations" composed of fourteen member organizations, each of which has representation on the Commission's board of directors. The member organizations are:
- Aerospace Medical Association
- Air Medical Physicians Association
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Association of Respiratory Care
- American College of Emergency Physicians
- Association of Air Medical Services
- National Air Transportation Association
- National Association of Air Medical Communications Specialists
- National Association of State EMS Directors
- National EMS Pilots Association
- National Flight Nurses Association
- National Flight Paramedics Association
Requirement for accreditation
While in principle CAMTS accreditation is voluntary, a number of government jurisdictions require companies providing medical transportation services to have CAMTS accreditation in order to be licensed to operate. This is an increasing trend as state health services agencies address the issues surrounding the safety of emergency medical services flights
. Some examples are the states of
. According to the rationale used to justify Washington's adopting the accreditation requirments, "Requiring accreditation of air ambulance services provides assurance that the service meets national public safety standards. The accreditation is done by professionals who are qualified to determine air ambulance safety. In addition, compliance with accreditation standards is done on a continual basis by the accrediting organization. Their accreditation standards are periodically revised to reflect the dynamic, changing environment of medical transport with considerable input from all disciplines of the medical profession."
Other states require either CAMTS accreditation or a demonstrated equivalent, such as Rhode Island and Texas, which has adopted CAMTS' Accreditation Standards (Sixth Edition, October 2004) as its own. In Texas, an operator not wishing to become CAMTS accredited must submit to an equivalent survey by state auditors who are CAMTS-trained. Virginia and Oklahoma have also adopted CAMTS accreditation standards as their state licensing standards.
A controversy resulting in a lawsuit against CAMTS erupted at the beginning of 2003. In December, 2002, CAMTS withdrew the accreditation of Eagle Air Med, an aeromedical program operating in Utah, primarily serving the Indian Health Service
on the Navajo Nation
. IHS requires contracting providers to be CAMTS-accredited. On its application to CAMTS, Eagle Air Med listed only one accident in the previous five years, because at the time, CAMTS did not define accident in its application process. It was determined that according to the FAA's definition of accident, Eagle Air Med had only one accident, but had several incidents that were not listed on their application. There was disagreement between what CAMTS wanted listed as an accident and what Eagle Air Med had listed so when CAMTS revoked the certification, Eagle Air Med filed suit in January, 2003, and requested an injunction until the matter could be tried. The Injuction was successful, but in November 2003, a Utah district court ruled in favor of CAMTS, removed the injunction, and removed the company's accreditation, although it also ruled that Eagle Air Med could reapply for accrediation immediately and CAMTS could not withhold them from applying for any amount of time. Eagle Air Med's status is currently listed as 'Action Pending' on the CAMTS website.
Notable accredited programs