Those Pesky Civilian Helpers

Physicians and Nurses Offering Help Can Challenge Emergency Responders

The first thing you should do when physicians or nurses identify themselves as such and want to help is to ask for identification to prove they are what they say they are. Then determine their background. Is this a physician who works in the busiest emergency room in the state or is the physician a dermatologist who burns off warts most of his day? If a physician has the background and knowledge that would definitely benefit the patient, ask him or her whether they are willing to accept responsibility for the patient if online medical control relinquishes authority to them? If they are not, there is no point in going any further.

Don’t forget that you are working under protocols and online medical control, and possibly even regional authority. There are legal hurdles to jump if you step outside your granted authority and turn it over to someone else who may not be part of the system. In some systems, protocols mandate that if you relinquish medical control and online medical control hands over control to the physician on the scene, that physician must accompany the patient to the hospital and must be willing to sign the patient-care report for any orders given.

Of course, the situation changes dramatically if the situation is a life-hazard environment and personal protective equipment (PPE) and/or self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is needed. If someone is trapped in a car and extrication is occurring, the physician should not be allowed into the scene. After the patient is extricated, it is a different story.

There is much more that can be discussed when it comes to physicians and nurses who offer their unsolicited help on emergency scenes. It is important to remember that there should be a careful balance between what is best for the patient, what can be legally done, and the qualifications and background of the doctor or nurse.






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