TOTWTYTR replied to my recent post concerning the need for cops to wear cameras while on duty. I was originally going to respond in the comments section, but thought that my thoughts on this would require more room than I had, so I figure I can get a post out of it.

Be careful what you ask for because it’s not a stretch for someone to say “Paramedics need cameras” too. Like the ones that some systems have in their ambulances to track your driving skills. 

My department installed cameras in the patient compartment of all of the rigs a few years ago, and the original plan was to record all of the action. I was one of the most vocal opponents of this plan, and I pointed out that personal injury attorneys would analyze every frame of video to score a “gotcha” moment and use it against you. I also noted that HIPPA compliance would be a real issue with these recordings. I used to think that there is no way that I would want to be recorded. I have since changed that view.

I have a few thoughts on this that I want to share:

First, it would be hypocritical of me to expect a cop to wear a camera and not be willing to do the same. I am being paid by the public, and the public has every right to know what and how I am doing things on their behalf and on their dime. I have no problem with being recorded while on the job, as long as those recordings protect the modesty and privacy of my patients, who do have a right to expect their privacy is secure. If the patient were blurred out, or if the recordings were only released to the patient, then the patient’s right to privacy is secure, and I am just fine with it.

Second, if I am doing my job, and treating the patient they way that they are supposed to be treated, I have nothing to worry about. I do my job, and I do it well. The worst thing that anyone will see on video is that I occasionally miss an IV or a tube. So what? I will get an IO or a King tube, and that is the end of it. In order for this to create a liability, the lawyer needs to prove three things:

1 That there was a duty to act, and
2 That the paramedic failed to act, or acted in a way that a reasonable paramedic with his experience and training would not have acted, and
3 this failure resulted in a negative outcome or harm for the patient.

Even if there is no video, if you are doing things that are not in the best interests of your patients, you are going to get sued, and rightly so. To a good medic, a video can help more than hurt. A video is poison to a bad medic.

The only official complaint that I have ever had filed against me was one where a Doctor accused me of failing in a treatment, and the thing that saved me was a memory dump of my LifePack. If it wasn’t for the telemetry information that was contained in the monitor, I would be a greeter at Wal-Mart. A video would have done wonders for my case.

The third thought on this matter: I know a lot of crappy medics. They make up vitals, they do as little as possible, and do everything they can get away with to complete the run and go sit down somewhere. They have been known to bring in patients with agonal respirations with only a nonrebreather. They bring codes in to the ER with only BLS in progress. These are the medics who make the good medics look bad. Those of you who want to improve EMS, and who want paramedicine to excel, remember that the crappy medics who are getting away with that sort of thing are the ones who are making us all look bad.

Maybe it is time that they leave us.

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1 Comment

TOTWTYTR · September 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I don't like being spied on. Nor do I like the idea that only a camera makes me do my job properly. Which I know is not what you are saying, but it certainly is what management is saying to you.

If I'm going to have a camera following my every action, then I want a camera on my bosses following their every action.

Chances are that they are doing a lot of things that they shouldn't be doing and don't want to be caught doing.

In management school that's known as Theory X management. It's the kind of management that drives employees into forming unions.

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