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Patient Refusal and Law Enforcement

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I am sure this has been discussed MANY times but I have a question/opinion request on transport refusal. I'm an EMT-I in an county in NC and recently had a dramatic patient refusal. I was working a special event and was called to the police van for a possible rape/sexual assault. On repeated questioning/talking with the patient both in the presence and away from Law Enforcement officers, the female patient insisted that she was not raped, sexually assaulted, or the victim of any other crime. I informed the police that the patient was alert, oriented, and competent to refuse treatment and transport and proceeded to get a refusal signed from the patient after explaining why she should go to the ER. The on duty police supervisor had me arrested and charged with some random charge (I wasn't informed of the specifics) and called my supervisor to report that I was unlawfully refusing to take the patient to the hospital. My supervisor sternly warned me about going against the police but then stated that I could not have legally taken the patient against her will. I am a bit confused of what I should have done? On one hand I am facing some charge (he refused to even talk talk to me/answer questions upon arrest) from a police officer and on the other yelled at by my supervisor who ultimately stated that I did the right thing but should have obeyed the police. Has anyone had any experience in this? I am kind of apprehensive about what a court will say...

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I Haven't had experience in this but I have a ton of respect for you as a patient advocate.

First, you can't take an alert and oriented patient against their will, not ethically anyhow.

Second, I'm aware of no place that the police have any right to tell you to do ANYTHING, but perhaps move of of the way.

If the police were confident that a crime had been committed than after you'd found her to be medically safe and competent then they should have transported her to the hospital for evidence collection, or convinced her to be transported by you. But in no world did they have the right to tell you who to put into your ambulance, or why.

It sounds like they were pissed because you didn't transport for them and felt the need to spank you for that. If your story is accurate I'd speak to a lawyer not only about your arrest charges but civil rights violations as well.

If it was me I would make it a hobby to make this issue as big and ugly as I could.

I'd be grateful if you'd keep us updated...

Dwayne

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DO you work in Mayberry or Hooterville??

You did the appropriate thing in your duties as an EMT. To force a pt against there will, is kidnapping and potentially assault & battery.

Unless they put her in protective custody then we can do nothing about a crime that might have occurred.

Now the local cop sounds like he has no idea of what the laws are that govern how we operate.

I would expect your employer to provide a land shark to represent you, but in reality he/she will be protecting the company, & will throw you under the bus if need be.

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This is an area that I am not well versed ans hate that you had to go through it, I wish you the best.

There are a couple of things to consider in the LE/public relationship.

Can a LEO make a lawful order? Sure they can, and do it all of the time. "License and registration please" "Stand over there" "Get on your knees" "Put a weenie in each ear, flippers on your feet and walk in circles barking like a dog", you get the point.

Can you refuse to comply with the order? Sure you can, and people do it all of the time, only they are likely to be detained, arrested and possibly even beaten or shot depending on the vehemency of their refusal and the level of professionalism of the policeman, or lack of.

Is this fair? Not really but it is the way things work.

So what happens if the order is unlawful? The results will be pretty much the same as before. If you refuse you get harassed by the policeman who could not impose his will over yours. The only difference is that in the end, you get paid.

By refusing to transport a patient against her will, you protected your patient from police abuse, you have protected you certification and integrity as a provider as well. You will not be charged with kidnapping and potentially assault & battery and the patient cannot sue you.

You have gained the opportunity to file a civil rights suit, and sue the Department for whatever emotional, financial, or reputation damages you incurred. You will not successfully sue the Policeman but the department is fair game. I am not a legal eagle but unlawful privation of freedom, libel, and slander are some of the ones that first come to mind.

Before you do anything, anything at all, lawyer up. I am not a legal mind but can see that you obviously could benefit from one. A good lawyer can get you justice without ever going to court. STOP talking to anyone about this case until you get a lawyer. Strategy is key in these cases and if you attempt any action without a lawyer you are running the risk of screwing up a perfectly good strategy.There should be plenty of reputable firms that would love to take this case on percentage. If there is a civil rights violation they might even take it pro bono.

Let us know how this turns out for you.

Best wishes.

EDIT: Spelling

Edited by DFIB

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All I can say is holy shit and shame on BOTH the cops and your supervisor.

Your supervisor should have busted his ass to get to the scene to be your advocate. Instead he was busting your ass.

You need to think long and hard about how much you like working for a company who wont come to the scene when one of its crews are getting arrested.

You need a lawyer and that lawyer needs to both hate cops and spineless ambulance services and their gutless supervisors.

You need to figure out where you want your new house to be built.

Sent from my SPH-D710 using Tapatalk 2

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DO you work in Mayberry or Hooterville??

Do they serve buffalo wings in Hooterville? :whistle:

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When you were arrested I presume the officer read you your rights. I'd advise you to pay particular attention to your right to remain silent. Please don't hash this out here in advance of your court proceedings. Hash this out with your lawyer first. Then hash it out in court. The please come back and tell us the story and how it all worked out.

The last thing you need is for some slick lawyer to find this post and use it against you in court.

Delete the OP if you can. Then tell us how it all plays out *after* your court proceedings are concluded.

You need a lawyer and that lawyer needs to both hate cops and spineless ambulance services and their gutless supervisors.

While "hate" is a pretty strong word, I think the sentiment fits in this particular case. It is excellent advice that you should be following.

edit: found a misspelling that I couldn't let go uncorrected.

Edited by paramedicmike

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Admin, while I do not advocate the deletion of threads under most circumstances, Mike is right in this circumstance. Any chance you could delete this thread. This kid doesn't need our wonderful advice muddying the waters in his defense.

But if not, I would suggest that this thread be locked for the OP's own good.

Mike, stellar advice once again.

But if I may be so bold as to give one last piece of advice to the OP, once you get done reading this thread, do not stop and collect 200 dollars, I would talk to your father and ask him who he would use as an attorney (dads give great advice seriously they do) and then go see that attorney. Retain counsel and lay out exactly what happened to that attorney. If that attorney won't take your case then he will refer you to one that will. AFter you read this thread then for lack of a better word "SHUT UP and DO NOT REPLY ON THIS THREAD" and let your lawyer do your talking.

Be prepared for major fallout from your ambulance service like probably getting fired. Be prepared for that because that's probably going to happen.

Have a fallback plan, flipping burgers during this time isn't a bad career plan for the duration because your skills won't deteriorate in the time your court case is going on.

And remember, you DID THE RIGHT THING by this patient and sometimes doing the right thing gets messy.

now stop reading this thread and go see your dad for the advice I told you to ask him.

Good luck

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Before it gets locked, I just wanted to add my 2 cents. You cannot force some to go if they have the capacity to make that decision. As was said previously, that is kidnapping/assault/battery. The PO was completely wrong (unless there is something to this story that you are not sharing). No one is going to watch out for you in this case, including your company. They are going to do whatever it takes to protect themselves, even if it means hanging you. Get yourself a lawyer NOW. It does sound like there may be some civil rights violations here. Good luck and let us know how you made out.

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Do they serve buffalo wings in Hooterville? :whistle:

That was a reference to a 60's TV shows, Petticoat junction and the other to Mayberry RFD with deputy Barney Fife.

Both a couple of backwoods Carolina towns with dipwad cops.

I know most of you aren't old enough to have a clue what I'm talking about. :bonk:

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