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dlinfiniti

Legal Question

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Hi, long time reader, first time poster

Anyway, I am an EMT-Basic in the state of California and also volunteer at my local ER on Sundays. Now the hospital's auxiliary (volunteer center) has made it explicit that I cannot provide any medical care whatsoever, however they do encourage patient contact both verbally and physically through handholding and stuff. Now my question is, would I be initiating my responsibility for patient care under my license if I were to hold a patient's hand as a volunteer? Do i have duty to act if I were in the room and a patient crashed, and if I were provide minor medical care such as direct pressure to control bleeding or something like that under the direct supervision of a nurse and doctor, whose license would be on the line legally there. Would volunteer services department be liable in any way if something happened? me? the doctor? Any idea on this subject matter would be greatly appreciated thanks.

If this is in the wrong subforum, please feel free to move it, thanks

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Welcome to the site mate.

This is a question you should bring up with the Hospital Administrators, Director of Emergency and EMS Boss. Depending on what sort of insurance they have and what you volunteer job description enables you to do. Your EMS insurance might not cover you as your acting under another medical organization. But ask questions and maybe get something written on paper.

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You do not have a licence.

You have a certificate.

Therefore, you have nothing to lose (except for your volunteer "job," if you can call that a loss) and it is a rhetorical question.

Good luck, and welcome to The City!

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Dust pretty much answered the question in his own kind, sugar coated way. Don't sweat whether you are holding someone's hand or not or duty to act or any of that stuff, know the law, know how it works, know what will get you in trouble, but ultimately, the decision to help someone should be a matter of whether its the right thing to do or not, not the subtle nuances of negligence law. Now, see, I don't even know whether to say that or not, because I think I'm opening up a can of worms for every freewheeling, half cocked, freshly minted EMT in the world to go out and try and play hero, which, of course, I'm not saying, I'm saying its a just a matter or principle. See, If I'm walking home and I see someone laying on the street, unless they are obviously a homeless person sleeping one off, I'll stop and give 'em a shake and see if they're ok. I'm not doing it because I have duty to act or because I'll get sued if I don't, I do it because I think its the right thing to do. If I didn't have genuine concern for my fellow human being, I really should not be in this business in the first place, and I think that should be the guiding principle at all levels.

The only scenario I could possibly think of that you could find yourself in is a sudden cardiac arrest. If you are in a hospital room and grandma McGurk codes, rather than starting CPR, go get the nurse, or even press that button that says 'Emergency' or 'Code' that most hospital rooms have in them (not the nurse call bell, we all know that never works, right Dust? :wink: ). I say this because (hopefully) if you yell for help, the time between the code and CPR being started will be negligible, and small amount of time that elapses between you starting CPR and the nurse starting CPR is really insignificant versus the risk of a BLS provider starting CPR on someone who doesn't need it while they are in the hospital. That job is for the residents.

Now, on the other hand, if you are in the lobby, and Grandma McGurk who was in for a cardiac work up goes into arrest while you are standing next to her, and all you have around you is security guards giving that stare that only someone who makes $7.25 an hour before taxes can manage, well, I personally would say go for it. If you are right and they really are in cardiac arrest, rather than just say syncopizing, and bruddah, you'd better be right, no one is going to fault you for starting CPR. Then again if you crack a few ribs on Grandma McGurk when you thought she was in arrest but really she was just dehydrated and hypotensive and on a beta blocker, you and the hospital are in very much lots trouble. And if you are in the lobby at 10 p.m. and the hospital is deserted save for you, McGurk, and the janitor, and she goes into arrest, and there is an AED right there hanging on the wall... and you know how to use it, well, you probably shouldn't. No, you definitely shouldn't. You definitely, definitely, absolutely shouldn't. I probably would, but I can be a real tunnel-vision impaired, shortsighted moron sometimes, too. Start CPR and call for help.

That's the only scenario I an think of you might find yourself in. Splinting, bandaging, OPA's, NPA's, Backboards, KED's, assisting with aspirin, albuterol and/or NTG, ipecac, activated charcoal, instaglucose, or emergency childbirths are right the eff out.

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thanks for the comments, I have been a volunteer for longer than I have been an EMT and I really enjoy doing it but just needed clarification on where my boundaries are now especially after I saw a fellow volunteer that is sort of in the same shoes as me get chewed out by our volunteer supervisor for assisting a doctor in controlling bleeding by applying pressure to a patient under the orders and supervision of that MD. It really got me worried about getting put into these very rare, but possible situations.

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