On Patient Abuse

Sunday, April 03 2005

Unfortunately, patient abuse exists. It happens all the time, and mostly goes unreported. There is no specific age bracket. The elderly. Average adults. Children as young as six years of age.

Seldom are the police, or any other authorities notified. When you ask the victims they will most often try to shrug it off as being “the way things are”. Resignation. After all, they theorize – I probably won’t see them again. Why cause trouble? And who would I tell, they think – the nurse? The doctor? They don’t care. My friends? What are they going to do about it?

It has been suggested, many times, that video cameras be installed in the ambulance. But how is HIPAA satisfied when a video record exists? There are deep privacy concerns which must be addressed here. Not every transport involves patient abuse.

But those transports which do make some funny stories sometimes.

Que es su nombre?” What is your name?

“Mi nombre es Senhor Rodriguez,” comes the reply. “SU nombre es… bendecho! Ha ha ha!”

“Yeah, okay, thanks. Been drinking tonight, Mr. Rodriguez?”

“Like I’ll tell you, Mr. Bendechho. Ha ha ha! That’s funny. Mr. Bendecho!”

“Ooookay. I’m going to borrow your arm here for a minute-”

“No bendecho is going to borrow my arm!”

Patient last run, adult female who had a 5″ head lac and possible dislocation from a fall.

“I don’t need no collar!”

“Well, you know, we kind of need to be careful about that…”

“I know medicine. I work in a pharmacy!”

“Then I’m sure you understand why I need to-”

“I know medicine. This is unnecessary! This is brutality!”

“Because you’ve been drinking you might not feel any pain even if-”

“There is no cause for this thing on my neck. I know this and who told you to put it on me?”

“Ma’am, I sure would hate to ask the police to come here to help me with this.”

“Police? Police! In my house! Who the hell do you think…”

Later, during the transport:

“I need this thing off my forehead.”

“The tape?”

“It’s choking me.”

“The tape. On your forehead.”

“It’s chokin’ me, I tell you. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe at all. Why can’t you understand when I tell you the thing you got here across my face is chokin’ the life out of me and makin’ it so I can’t breathe at all and you sit there and you ain’t goin’ to do nuthin’ about that I call that brutality!”

Via con Dios, Johnny Cochran. You know you are most sorely missed.

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