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  • Paramedic: Cops abuse law to detain people

    http://www.startribune.com/local/705...tml?page=3&c=y
    Paramedic: Cops abuse law to detain people

    A veteran paramedic sued his employer and Brooklyn Center Police Department on Thursday, alleging they have routinely abused a state law that allows police officers to bring mentally ill people to a hospital if they are a threat to themselves or others.

    Nate Berg, 30, who has spent almost 10 years working as a paramedic in the metro area, said he has personally witnessed more than 200 incidents in which an individual's civil rights have been violated. He said local police agencies have been misusing the law as a way to temporarily force people into hospitals when they don't have enough information to support an arrest.

    Under an emergency hold, doctors can detain an individual for up to 72 hours against their will. Hospitals are allowed to charge for their services. Berg claims his employer, North Memorial Medical Center, overlooks questionable holds because the activity generates significant revenue. He said the hospital also wants to protect its relationships with local police agencies.

    "An administrative hold is an incredibly powerful tool," said Patrick Burns, Berg's lawyer. "You're denying somebody their civil liberties and it's something that shouldn't be used as a means for a hospital to make money, for ambulance companies to make money or municipal law enforcement officers to shirk their duties and responsibilities."

    In a statement, North Memorial said "there is no merit" to Berg's allegations.

    Brooklyn Center Police Chief Scott Bechthold said he couldn't discuss the lawsuit, but he said his department has policies, training and supervision in place to make sure officers are following the law regarding emergency holds.

    Berg's lawsuit, filed in Hennepin County District Court, was prompted by a July incident involving Brooklyn Center police. He arrived at a group home on a hot afternoon, finding a sullen 15-year-old boy sitting in the back of a squad car.

    The police officer said the patient was having psychiatric issues and was upset, Berg said in his suit. The officer said the patient may be off his medications, Berg said. But they were unable to produce a copy of the boy's care plan, which would have shown what medications he was on as well as his doctor's instructions for handling various situations.

    The boy told Berg he was mad because he had gotten into a fight with his caretaker. But Berg said the boy didn't appear to be suffering from a medical problem and was speaking coherently. Berg told the officer it wasn't ambulance policy to take someone to the hospital because they were angry.

    When the officers told Berg that the boy had assaulted his caretaker, Berg said they should treat the case as a law enforcement matter, not as a medical issue. But he said police officers refused to listen to him, with one insisting that the boy "was going in," according to the lawsuit.

    With the police yelling at him, Berg helped the boy out of the squad car and put him in the ambulance. Berg drove off, taking the boy to the emergency room of a nearby hospital because he felt it was the safest place for the boy after his confrontation with the police. On the way there, the boy told him he was upset about not being able to live with his parents, but he said he was taking all his medications.

    "I did my job," Berg said. "I protected my patient. He shouldn't have been put on a hold and he wasn't in this scenario because of what I did."

    Berg said he immediately called his supervisor to tell him about the incident. The next week, he filed a complaint with the state Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).

    The POST board forwarded the complaint to the Brooklyn Center Police Department, which is required to investigate.

    Cmdr. Mike Reynolds informed Berg in a letter that the department's officers were exonerated and that "the allegation of misuse of services was unfounded."

    The hospital subsequently reprimanded Berg, saying his complaint to state officials could compromise "our excellent working relationship with this particular police department, a relationship which we painstakingly nurture and which is crucial to the functioning and safety of our crews on the street."

    Hospital officials later apologized and said they would remove the disciplinary action from his record, documents show.

    North Memorial spokesman Robert Prevost said paramedics aren't legally qualified to "question or otherwise make decisions" about whether an emergency hold is warranted.

    "North Memorial has always followed the practice that it is the peace officer who has the authority to make the transport decision,'' Prevost said in a written statement. "North Memorial is certain that this practice has been well communicated to its staff, but will be preparing a written policy to advise all personnel about it."

    Roger Schwab, a state regional ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, said the emergency hold law doesn't address whether EMTs or paramedics have permission to transport patients. The statute says only peace or health officers are allowed to transport patients. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics aren't considered health officers under the statute, Schwab said.

    "It always used to be that law enforcement were the ones to transport," Schwab said. "Now it's an issue because law enforcement agencies need their officers in the field and don't want to be doing transport. Quite frankly, if the peace officers were that concerned, they could have transported the individual themselves."

    Schwab said the statute needs to be updated and the question of whether emergency medical personnel can transport patients under an emergency hold should be addressed.
    While I don't agree with the paramedic, I do believe that his employer made a huge mistake by giving him a reprimand for reporting what he believed to be a legitimate issue. Have they never heard of whistleblower laws?
    What is Perseverance?
    -Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance.
    -Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.
    -PERSEVERANCE IS TRYING AGAIN AND AGAIN.


    BOP - BPA - ICE

  • #2
    Since when can a Paramedic diagnose neurological or metal health problems? Since when does a Paramedic know the laws, policy and procedures about when you should and should not transport?

    The Paramedic should not have been reprimanded; However, his allegations are in the wrong (IMO).

    Comment


    • #3
      The paramedic should have been reprimanded for taking the boy to the emergency room instead of to the hospital to which the police were sending him.
      Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
      Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by DAL View Post
        The paramedic should have been reprimanded for taking the boy to the emergency room instead of to the hospital to which the police were sending him.
        ^Truth

        This appears to be an example of curbside lawyerism. It's one thing to file a complaint for what he felt was unlawful detainment, it was another thing to take the law into his own hands and discharge the patient to a different hospital without the authority to do so.

        Comment


        • #5
          5150 holds are transported by private ambulance or officers here...the FD will not transport.
          Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

          sigpic

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by willowdared View Post
            5150 holds are transported by private ambulance or officers here...the FD will not transport.
            This sounded like a private ambulance operated by the hospital.

            If it had been the FD, the officers and the paramedics would have worked out their differences.
            Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by GWBJR
              Without base station contact one cannot transfer a patient to a lower level of medical care. Unless one resides in a "right to work" state with minimum wage employees and backyard protocol. I have 30+ years of employment in a progressive ALS transport department. And yes I do have national registry certification. If you do not transport ALS WTF are you talking about? My guess medic w/little experience evaluating patients. BTW private ambulance experience does not count as FDs transport most critical patients. BTW after reading your comment how old are you and how much experience do you have as a medic? I know you realize patient care defaults to the medic with what? That would be the medic with the most experience.
              I find your post incomprehensible. I genuinely do not know what you are trying to communicate.
              Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
              Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

              Comment


              • #8
                Without saying the medic was right or wrong, I'll say this. As a medic you must act as a patient advocate, you must do what you think is right for the patient, regardless what the PD or anyone else thinks. If the medic in the situation above believed he was doing what was best for the patient, then he did the right thing.

                I saw few comments saying the medic should be reprimanded for not taking the patient to the ER the PD was sending the patient do. Another one stated he should be reprimanded because he did not have the authority to take him to a different hospital. The medic absolutely has the authority to take the patient to the ER of his choice within reason. Unless directed by medical control, the medic makes the call on which hospital to transport.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by momedic View Post
                  Without saying the medic was right or wrong, I'll say this. As a medic you must act as a patient advocate, you must do what you think is right for the patient, regardless what the PD or anyone else thinks. If the medic in the situation above believed he was doing what was best for the patient, then he did the right thing.

                  I saw few comments saying the medic should be reprimanded for not taking the patient to the ER the PD was sending the patient do. Another one stated he should be reprimanded because he did not have the authority to take him to a different hospital. The medic absolutely has the authority to take the patient to the ER of his choice within reason. Unless directed by medical control, the medic makes the call on which hospital to transport.
                  You take my 5150 to a place that I don't know about and I don't know where they are? I don't like it. I'm not saying you're wrong, however I would not be pleased.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GWBJR
                    Without base station contact one cannot transfer a patient to a lower level of medical care. Unless one resides in a "right to work" state with minimum wage employees and backyard protocol. I have 30+ years of employment in a progressive ALS transport department. And yes I do have national registry certification. If you do not transport ALS WTF are you talking about? My guess medic w/little experience evaluating patients. BTW private ambulance experience does not count as FDs transport most critical patients. BTW after reading your comment how old are you and how much experience do you have as a medic? I know you realize patient care defaults to the medic with what? That would be the medic with the most experience.
                    What? I am a Colorado and National Registered EMT-P. Medics can not diagnose mental disorders...EMS can NOT diagnose.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DAL View Post
                      The paramedic should have been reprimanded for taking the boy to the emergency room instead of to the hospital to which the police were sending him.
                      I do not see anywhere in the article that the paramedic transported the boy to a different hospital than what the PD requested.

                      I am not an officer, or a paramedic, but it does sound like something is going on between the hospital and PD. But who knows, I wasn't there to witness anything.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        North Memorial spokesman Robert Prevost said paramedics aren't legally qualified to "question or otherwise make decisions" about whether an emergency hold is warranted.
                        ^^^^^^^^^
                        Nuff Said.Sounds to me like the paramedic was POed cause he didn't feel like transporting.
                        Sleeping Giant. They're not fat and happy anymore. They are hungry and increasingly angry. That is not a good recipe for a "Puppies and Rainbows America".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          How does a paramedic have the training to determine if someone meets the criteria for a mental health hold, and what does he know about the laws and procedures related to mental holds? What authority does he have to override those who have the legal authority to place a hold? He shouldn't be protected by the whistleblower law if he is wrong. That law should only protect someone who is right in making a complaint.
                          Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                          I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Berg said the boy didn't appear to be suffering from a medical problem and was speaking coherently.
                            Genius. How many head cases have you guys run across that appear perfectly normal one minute, and go off the deep end the next? I know I've seen it. This wacko apparently feels that he's a psychiatrist, EMT, lawyer, and police officer all rolled into one.

                            If the kid had committed suicide in the ER, or attacked a nurse, this guy would be roasting on a slow fire in the media. What, he thinks now we have to dig out the mental case's prescriptions to prove that they're dangerous, before transporting? Based on a report that the kid is a danger to himself or others, it's acting in good faith to send the kid to the hospital for a REAL mental health professional to evaluate.

                            momedic sez: As a medic you must act as a patient advocate, you must do what you think is right for the patient, regardless what the PD or anyone else thinks. If the medic in the situation above believed he was doing what was best for the patient, then he did the right thing.
                            You're a medic, not a lawyer. Read up on liability; if you fail to follow procedure and instead go off poorly-informed, uneducated, "gut instincts" in diagnosing a mental health issue, eventually you will screw up. And when you do misdiagnose someone, you will be fully liable, especially if you are outside of policy. "I thought I was right," sucks as an excuse when you break the policy that states that medics are not trained or equipped to determine mental health status or question 5150 holds, and your patient then hurts himself or others. Here we had officers trying to escape liability by following department policy of letting a mental health professional determine whether the kid was stable, and an ego-junkie medic trying to be a mental health professional and civil-rights crusader. Geez. I'd be irate, too, if this backside-of-a-donkey tried to stick me with the liability for the kid not seeing a mental health professional.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When I dealt with these issues it was simple. The patient had to be a threat to themselves or others. I had to write up why they were a threat to themselves or others and I had to transport to the nearest mental health ward. If my written observations were not enough, then the mental health ward would not accept the patient. It was nothing more than an observation period in the hospital.

                              Did the medic think that instead of charging the kid, with known mental health issues, with a crime, it was better for him to be placed in a custody to be possibly treated for an issue he had? The officer was in a bad position. If the kid was off his meds and they didn't transport to a hospital then in court they would have been torn apart by the defense. If they transport to the hospital then it gives the benefit of the doubt to the kid that it was a health issue not so much a criminal issue.

                              Either way, forming a hard opinion based on a news report is sketchy at best.
                              But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

                              For the intelectually challenged: If the government screws the people enough, it is the right and responsibility of the people to revolt and form a new government.

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