(Another) reason why EMS isn’t taken seriously

EMS providers love to claim that “EMS isn’t taken seriously” by you-name-the-other-healthcare-profession.  And we’re right.  We rarely are taken seriously.  I’ve complained before about some of the reasons why.  (See also: T-shirts with flaming skulls and sayings about “Racing the Reaper” and “Doing Everything That a Doctor Does at 80 miles per hour.)

But today, I stumbled on another reason why we shouldn’t be taken seriously.   EMS professionals of all levels fail to grasp the science behind what we do.  I’m not talking about an EMT being unfamiliar with the Krebs cycle or even a paramedic not being able to explain why Trendelenburg is bunk.

What I’m talking about is more fundamental.  It’s about a failure to understand the scientific method, which subsequently adds to the continued issues with medics lacking critical thinking skills or understanding research.  This morning, I saw at least two experienced paramedics on Facebook hawking pseudoscientific woo as diet/health supplements.   Either they’re con artists or they lack the basic scientific literacy to understand that there’s ZERO science or evidence behind the overwhelming majority of these products.  Let’s not even discuss the amount of EMS providers who are vaccine deniers.  I won’t even give them the courtesy of invalidating their beliefs.  To me, vaccine deniers are the medical version of Holocaust deniers.

And then, there’s the other extreme in EMS.  We have the pedants who claim to be advocates of science and “evidence based medicine.”   All too often, though, these “experts” will immediately advocate massive changes in medical practice based on one journal article.  Sometimes, these experts don’t even critically analyze the article.  Patient who receive morphine in acute coronary events have worse outcomes?  Their solution?  Ban morphine administration.  Critical takeaway — most patients who receive morphine in acute coronary events receive morphine only because the nitroglycerine failed to relieve their chest pain.  Did it ever occur that the patients with more acute pain might be having a more extensive event?  Nope.  To the nattering nabobs of negativity who self-appoint themselves as “EMS research experts,” one journal article is enough to limit the EMS skills arsenal or drug formulary.  Yet, these same experts usually want multiple studies to enhance EMS skills or drugs because “the science hasn’t been proven yet.”  Folks, it’s a rare case when one journal article should change your practice.

I’ve blogged before about the shameful state of EMS legal education.  It’s somewhat understandable as EMS isn’t run by attorneys.  (And that’s probably a good thing, excluding your favorite blogger not named Kelly Grayson….)  But EMS is medical practice.  And medical practice is supposed to based upon science.  For EMS providers of any level to not understand the scientific method and inject a healthy dose of skepticism to most claims is to fail as medical providers.  And that, my dear minions, is yet another reason why we’re ambulance drivers and not healthcare professionals.

Comments

  1. Its to bad you categorize EMS professionals. The biggest downfall for EMS is the Zero to hero syndrome . Be a EMT first then an AEMT then maybe a Paramedic. Remember we don’t save lives, We try to prolong the inevitable give the family one last chance to kiss there loved ones good by.

  2. theambulancechaser says:

    Terry:

    WELL PLAYED! Your reply has got to be one of the best examples of trolling that I’ve ever seen. You managed to hit several of the reasons why EMS in the United States is considered a joke. Your spelling and grammar are so full of errors that I would presume that you have an intellectual disability. You bitterly cling to the tired model of mandating that providers progress through EMS like stair steps. As we know, physicians start out as medical assistants, then become physicians’ assistants before becoming doctors. Lawyers start out as legal assistants, then paralegals before becoming licensed attorneys.

    And you top it all off with some maudlin, self-important clichés about the role of EMS. Exceptionally well-played trolling. Remember, keep putting everyone on backboards, applying high-flow oxygen, and racing the reaper as you wear one of your “I’m a hero” t-shirts.

    Oh wait. I looked you up. You’re a paramedic and EMS instructor in North Carolina. I expected better from a professional paramedic and educator.

    THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS. PLEASE – RETIRE NOW AND QUIT FILLING NEW MEDICS’ HEADS WITH THIS MUSH.

    -The Ambulance Chaser

  3. Dominick Walenczak says:

    Surely, TN, you aren’t serious.

    Do you have any evidence to support your assertion that proceeding from EMT, to AEMT, to Paramedic makes a better provider?

  4. Here we have folks an example of the betamax. An outdated format that has been surpassed by better more user frenzy formats. Please remember to be nice to the museum piece.

  5. I’d be just fine with being treated by a brand new paramedic, as long as he had at least an associate’s degree covering the required Anatomy & Physiology, chemisty, biology, cardiology, and of the practical paramedic skills he was using, even if he never spent any time as an EMT.

    I don’t put as much stock in years of “experience” following protocols (written by a uninterested physician accepting the EMS medical director role in addition to twenty other such nominal positions) by rote.

  6. LMAO!

    Apply liberal amounts of cool water to that burn 😀

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