The Homeland Security folks have plastered the saying, “If you see something, say something” all over the place. EMS needs to adopt this saying as well for what we do.
First of all, when you’re part of a team providing care to a patient: “If you see something, say something.” If you see something that the other members of the team don’t see, say something. If the other team members aren’t treating the patient right, say something. Of course, there might be a good reason for why the team is going in a specific direction, but part of being a team means that you’re supposed to ask, especially if something doesn’t seem right to you.
What really inspired this post tonight was a story from a friend and mentor of mine. He’s also an attorney and has been in EMS so long that he has the original recipe for D50. He showed up at a neighbor’s house when her friend fell and struck her head. The local fire department and EMS showed up and immediately stood the patient up and tried to talk the patient into refusing transport. My friend pulled the medic aside, explained that he was also a paramedic, an attorney, and had previously been an expert witness against this EMS system. Oddly enough, the lead medic then told his partner to go get the stretcher.
I’ve been in a similar situation when a family member was cared for by the local EMS system. That first call was, in my opinion, handled poorly. (No need to rehash what I’ve already blogged about.) However, I had a responsibility to speak up. When the crew started going down all of the wrong pathways, I should’ve spoken up. I probably should’ve even asked for a supervisor to make the scene.
The takeaway from all of this is that patient advocacy is part of being a medical professional, regardless of whether you’re the lead provider, whether you’re off duty, or regardless of your certification level. Patient advocacy isn’t about popularity, but it is sure as heck is the right thing to do.
So, if you see something, say something.