First up in the news that made the round on EMS social media channels last week about two Fire Department of New York paramedics who were recently reprimanded for documentation issues surrounding their care for an elderly cardiac arrest patient.
Missing DNR and No CPR
The situation sets up like this. You go to a home for a patient in cardiac arrest where the wife of the patient swears there is paperwork to refuse any resuscitation efforts by EMS but she can only find the hospital version of that paperwork and not the EMS DNR paperwork.
The paramedics found a patient suffering from terminal stages of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. A supervisor later reported them for providing false documentation of interventions they did not, in fact, perform, namely intubation and IV access and meds.
EMS Documentation Legal Narrative
Now there are two issues here. First, the one that has the paramedics in hot water, the fact that they falsified official documentation of patient care. There is no excuse for that breach of trust in the system.
I have no problem with them failing to attempt to resuscitate the patient. It was the right thing to do. They still might have gotten into trouble but I have to believe that ultimately, they would have been exonerated.
EMS Professionalism Is Key
They got in trouble for trying to cover it up and avoid facing the difficult explanations they would have had to provide for violating protocol. But that, ladies and gentlemen, is what professionalism means. Sometimes you will be called upon to make a difficult decision based on an unusual situation. Whatever you decide to do, stand by your decision and face the consequences if you did the “wrong” thing for the “right” reasons.
Now these paramedics are facing criminal charges and will probably lose their jobs over this situation because of their cover-up. Stick to your guns, folks. Make the tough decision and stand by it when questioned. You’ll be better off in the long run.
Follow up on the links to this news item and all the other articles and resources in this week’s episode show notes – Flakka, Gravel, N-Bomb and Synthetic Drugs in MedicCast Episode 439.