We have had a rash (again) of paramedics who are too lazy or too stupid to do what they are supposed to do, and instead have decided to take the easy way out. Lets review a few of the incidents: (names changed to protect my job)
Paramedic George ran to a cardiologist’s office, where a male patient was complaining of palpitations. The first arriving crew had a paramedic on board, who placed the patient on a monitor and noted that the patient was in SVT with a rate of 180. He started an IV and turned the patient over to George. George stated that he did not treat the patient for SVT because “the hospital was just a few blocks away.”
Just a week later, George was ordered by medical control to give a patient 5mg of versed followed by 5mg more as needed to facilitate intubation after the patient had shot himself in the face with a 9mm handgun. He asked an EMT to draw up the medication. The EMT drew up the wrong medication (he mistakenly drew up diazepam instead of midazolam) and medic George said although he knew the drug was incorrect, he assumed that the order had been changed without his knowledge, and pushed it anyhow. When he did so, he noted that his IV had infiltrated, so he pushed THE SAME WRONG DRUG A SECOND TIME, thus giving the patient 20mg of valium instead of 10mg of versed. George and the medic assisting him were unable to secure an airway, and the patient died.
There was Paramedic Bill, who transported a code to the hospital with only CPR in progress (no line, no tube, no monitor, no drugs) because the “hospital was only 5 minutes away, and ACLS takes too long, we could be there by then.”
Then there is the prize: Paramedic Christie (who unbelievably has a second job as an ER nurse- an RN) transported an off duty coworker, who is another paramedic. The coworker was complaining of shortness of breath and was in SVT at a rate of 165. No 12 lead, no line. When the medic working with her (a new medic) wanted to give the adenosine and run a 12 lead, Christie ordered him not to. At the hospital, they gave the patient 6mg of adenosine and she immediately converted.
Two weeks later, my mother got a scary call at home- she had gotten a head CT earlier in the day for a minor eye problem, and they called her back at 9pm to tell her that the CT had found a large aneurysm in her brain (the Circle of Willis). My mother’s physician needed her to go to the big hospital some 30 miles from here, as they were the only area hospital equipped and staffed for that sort of surgery, even though there were 4 hospitals that were closer. He told me that the eye problem had just saved her life, and that I should have her transported by ambulance immediately. My mother called me and asked me to come get her. So what did I do? I brought my mother into the station and explained the situation to them.
Before even assessing my mother (who was still in the car- it was raining) Paramedic Christie said “I am not driving there this time of night. I will take her to the closest hospital, and that is it.” We argued. She refused. I did everything that I could to get my mother the patient care she deserved, but I was told by the supervisor that since I was off duty, I could not interfere. We called higher supervisors, the medic still refused to take my mother where she needed to go, stating to the supervisor that my mother was too unstable to make the 30 minute trip- Even though at no time did this “medic” assess or even speak to my mother- her patient. I finally told my mother to sign a refusal, and that I would take her in my car.
The other paramedic (we will call him Bruce) in the station (who was assigned to a different truck) finally at this point offered to switch places with Christie, and he took my mother to the hospital. He attempted an IV, but missed. I offered to start one, but Bruce threw me out of the truck, pointing out that I was off duty. How long did all of this take? My mother sat in the back of that ambulance for 52 minutes. no assessment was done by the attending medic. No IV attempt until 45 minutes after patient contact, and that IV was missed. Through all of this, they said she was too unstable to go on a 30 minute ride to the appropriate hospital, but she apparently was stable enough to sit in the driveway of the station for an hour.
During my next shift, I was telling my partner about what happened, when Bruce overheard. That began a yelling match, in which he told me to shut up and stop bad mouthing his partner, or he would have me reported for violating policy (as no employee is permitted to talk badly of another, per our rules) He then called me a fat useless bigmouth, and told me to stay away from him, or he would kick my ass. Then he said that I should mind my own business, stop badmouthing his partner, and go eat some more twinkies.
This is not the sort of professionalism that I would expect from any medical provider towards anyone, much less a medic treating a coworker’s family. I have reported the incident to higher authority to see what will come of this, and I am waiting.
My mother’s aneurysm has turned out to be inoperable, and we have more doctors to talk to in the coming days.