The Right Care

Today was kind of rough, from an emotional, what the hell is going on in the world, kind of way. It wasn’t especially busy, nor were the patients especially sick. We transported a guy to the hospital who could’ve driven himself. Then we cared for a young woman having a miscarriage. Then we responded to a low-speed MVC where the patient didn’t need a hospital. Then we brought a patient in, who by all accounts isn’t a great person and watched as the ER doctor treated him like a jerk. Oddly, it’s that call I just can’t shake today, and I’m bothered more by what I didn’t do, then what I did.

I don’t care why you call 911. I get frustrated like anyone when the system is abused, but truthfully, I don’t see people blatantly abusing the system. I see people who don’t know what else to do. I see people who might be ignorant and in need of education, but when someone calls 911, whatever is going on is an emergency for them. We’re the only ones they know to call. But regardless of the person, a human being deserves to be treated with respect. I’m not always the best. I lose my temper on people. I get annoyed. But I like to think I’ve never denied care to someone because I don’t like them, or who they represent. You could be a racist, Nazi, misogynist pig of a human being, and I might hold my nose the whole time I’m caring for you, but I’ll still do my best.
Anyway, we brought this guy in who was assaulted by the police. He needed care. He was short of breath. He may have had a lung injury. My partner and I managed him and brought him in to be evaluated. The moment the doctor discovered he had been taken down by police, her assumption was he deserved it. She told us to discontinue the IV, remove his oxygen mask, stick him in the waiting room; she said there weren’t any beds available for him in the ER. I quick count showed 6 open beds. Now it turns out he did deserve to be assaulted by the police. He was attacking a guy. Fortunately the only person really injured was this guy. But does that justify denying him medical care? I don’t think so. We care for patients regardless of our personal opinion of them. We don’t get to pick and choose who we care for. I heard a resident once say he didn’t want to care for really sick patients. Huh?! It’s a slippery slope when a healthcare practitioner begins to dictate who they will and will not serve. Especially in EMS or ED work, where literally anyone could call or walk in the door.
But back to my guy. I didn’t know what to do. The radio is going off that we have another call. The doctor is almost yelling at me to take the patient off the stretcher, discontinue my interventions and walk him to the waiting room. Part of the reason she was yelling was because I wasn’t responding. I was in disbelief. What I should’ve done was tell her to piss off and place the patient on an open bed. Instead, my partner and I lowered the stretcher, and sat the guy in a chair. I left the IV in place, and I found the only person I knew that would care for this man, a nurse. She did what the doctor wouldn’t, and I couldn’t. In that moment, she cared for the patient.