Monday, December 29

My Kind of Lawyer

Anyone who has been visiting knows Happy Medic is not a fan of lawyers in EMS and the Fire Service, they seem to add so many headaches and not make it any better to do our jobs.
So imagine my surprise when I heard a lawyer read a patient the riot act.

It was a couple of years ago and we had a few regulars that would get drop down drunk, get transported, then wander away before we even got back in service. You see, the lawyers were worried EMS would leave drunks in the street and someone would die.
More than once we would take a certain individual to the hospital multiple times to the point nurses would see him coming and put a bed near the door so he wouldn't stumble into anyone else on his escape attempt.
On this evening, however, the local hospital had finally had enough. When I radioed ahead, as is standard practice, the hospital responded asking if the patient's name was "Bob." I responded in the affirmative and they cleared the air. Odd, I thought, the nurses often give a sigh of recognition, but never ask to confirm the name.
As we arrived at the hospital and began to back in, I saw we had a welcoming party. I opened the doors to the Attending Physician, Charge Nurse, Hospital Administrator and the Lead Council of the Hospital's "lawyer brigade."
The lawyer asked if the Physician and charge nurse recognized the man, they stated yes and went back into the hospital. I asked the charge nurse what was happening and she just smiled. the administrator, who identified himself as a medical doctor, stated HE would be taking the report on this patient.
I gave my little rundown and he stated, very professionally, that he accepted the patient under his care. We were reloading the cot when the lawyer began reciting what I can only assume was a prepared statement.
In a nutshell it was informing our regular that he had been transported to the hospital over 25 times in the last 2 weeks and never stayed long enough to be seen by the physicians and that this blatant abuse of the hospital will stop. He then did something I wish more hospitals had the guts to do: They denied him care. Seems like a horrible thing to do, but the lawyer said they were within their rights since the man had refused care for the same complaint more than 2 dozen times. The regular was then offered a chair in the waiting room, if he chose to wait his turn to be evaluated. The Administrator offered an arm and led the man towards the door in, only to have the regular push him away and wander towards the bus stop.
In a week's time I didn't see our regular and later found out he had sought out treatment for dependency. Later in the month a memo came out advising units in the field to notify a supervisor if they encounter a regular more than once in a day.

Two years or so later, it's working.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Man, I wish I knew what State you are in. I wish this could happen in mine. I have a couple of 'satisfied customers that bring us repeat business' and we would love to be able to take SOME sort of measure to make them aware they are abusing the system. Why do people always wait until 2:30 am to decide that the pain which started at 2:30pm is too much to bear?
Lt. Tom
P.S. When are you gonna tell us how your DNR call went?