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A ‘Hypothetical’ Moral Dilemma

Posted Oct 10 2009 10:02pm

question-mark1a Since the post I put up the other day about the Camera man and EMT has started off a bit of a ‘legal’ discussion, I thought I would capitalise on the clever folks who read this blog to answer a hypothetical question for me (heres initially looking at you Star of Life Law and TOTWTYTR, but I would love to hear from anyone who has an opinion or any legal know how, especially any UK lawyers, so that we can have a UK law perspective too).

Lets just imagine that 2 bloggers are about to cross the Atlantic ocean to go and work alongside each other for a week (Imagine that??). They are both really excited about it (like kids before Christmas), but at times one of them goes off and thinks about all the various possibilities that could happen whilst he is in the other ones country (Can you think of which one it may be??).

He all of a sudden comes up with a scenario in which he knows what he would do, but doesnt know if it would get him in trouble or not, legally. So here is the scenario…….

Initially, when ‘The Project’ was born, the plan was that when Happy Medic was over here in the UK and when I am over there in the US, we would be actually participating in clinical care (like a student working under a Mentor), that way we could really feel as though we were part of the system for a while. However, back in the real world, the powers that be ran as far away from that idea as possible and the expected instruction of ‘Observation only’ was passed down the chain.

No big surprise there, and to be honest, it is what we had expected all along, and thats fine. But….

What if, for example, I am working along with Happy Medic on a shift, and we are sent to a major incident (or Mass casualty incident)? Highly unlikely I know, but possible. More likely however, would be a multi patient vehicle accident which is well within the realms of possibility. Now, I am there purely in an observation capacity, I must not touch a patient!

I am already wary of the apparent litigious nature of the US health care system and its users, but could I stand by and not intervene clinically if there was a real need?.

Im talking too many patients for the Paramedic or Paramedics on scene (actual poorly/critical patients, not just standing around holding their necks)

I will be standing there in my NHS uniform which states across my chest pocket that I am a paramedic, but I am not providing any assistance.

Whilst I am not breaking the rules by not providing clinical treatment in a country I am not registered to provide care in, could I be held accountable for causing harm by omitting the provision of care, when I am trained and registered to do so (albeit in a different country)

Theres the dilemma!

It’s very easy to say what should be done, but it would be much harder to do that if the situation arose. As I said, I am pretty sure I know what I would do in that circumstance, as would be the same answer for virtually all paramedics out there. But its an interesting thought.

Is there a precedent for this sort of thing, or is it the usual you make your choice and you take your chance?

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