More than 200 emergency medical technicians and paramedics in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have been practicing without legitimate certification, having paid certificate mills for fake credentials without taking any medical training, an investigation by Massachusetts public health officials has found.
Initial reports suggested that in some cases, medics used the fake credentials to allow them to begin treating patients for the first time, but state officials now say that technicians bought the credentials to renew their state certification.
The outfits peddling certificates provided them during the past two years to emergency medical technicians, paramedics, police officers, and firefighters in at least a dozen communities, including Boston, according to two public officials briefed on the investigation. Some 18 Boston firefighters are among those responding to medical emergencies without legitimate accreditation.
The state Department of Public Health discovered the ruse last year, when some properly certified EMTs complained to state officials that a number of colleagues had not been trained but received certification. The investigation expanded in recent weeks when an ambulance company reported some of its employees had falsified documentation.
The investigation is ongoing and is expected to grow to include more communities, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to speak publicly. In the meantime, the state is forcing the unaccredited technicians and paramedics to undergo training to ensure safe medical care for the public, they said.
State heath officials sent a letter last week to medical training providers statewide, warning them of the consequences of falsifying credentials. The department could refer some of the cases to the attorney general for criminal prosecution.
"DPH has made this investigation a priority to ensure the heath and safety needs of the Commonwealth," officials said in an internal memo obtained by The Boston Globe.
Donovan Slack can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @DonovanSlack.
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