EMS1.com is reporting a Florida man who was transported after a loss of consciousness may sue the agency that transported him.

According to the report, the patient suffered a loss of consciousness and was assisted by neighbors to his home and someone other than the patient dialed 911.

After an assessment, according to the patient, the paramedics determined he was “at risk for a stroke” and needed transport.

Kenneth Rothwell, the patient, states he was told, “It was either go, or you’re going to be handcuffed and we’re going to take you.”

Hang on here a minute folks.

The story does not elaborate WHO said anything about the handcuffs, but a deputy and EMT were at the scene.  Now we have reports of 3 rescuers (“Paramedic” “deputy” and “EMT”).  I wonder which one brought up the idea of handcuffs?


We have safeguards in place for this kind of situation by way of direct Medical Control.  Whenever I have a high index of suspicion of illness or injury and a patient refuses, I do my best to convince them of what I think is in their best interests.  If that fails I fall back on direct Medical Control to talk to the patient.  If that fails, most times, the MD will instruct me to explain the dangers of staying home to the patient and…wait for it…leave them there.

There is never a threat of “being handcuffed and we’re going to take you.”  That should NEVER be an option.  The urban myth that is patient kidnapping is being supported by poor decision making based on false presumptions.  I can only imagine that the deputy who made the hand cuff comments (unconfirmed) had no intention of placing Mr Rothwell under arrest for passing out.  I’ll have to confirm with Motorcop that is not an arrestable offense.


Point is that Mr Rothwell has a very good argument against whoever told him he “had” to go, either willingly or in cuffs.  THAT is the part that bothers me about all this.  That and the fact Mr Rothwell is required to make health care decisions based on out of pocket expenses, but that’s another issue entirely.


Comments will surface soon about foolish EMTs or that this is a good reason EMTs and Paramedics should not be making refusal referrals pre-hospital, but this is EXACTLY what Mr Rothwell needed.  BLS before ALS failed Mr Rothwell.  A well trained Paramedic could have offered Mr Rothwell a calm comfortable ride in his first response vehicle, or even to follow him to the local ER if he likes.  Maybe even make an appointment to call or drop by later in the day to check in on him, but we are locked into a 40 year old model that scares our people into transporting every scratch and scrape, tummy and head ache so we don’t get sued.

And this is where it gets us.

At the very least, the agency who mislead Mr Rothwell using intimidation in order to remove him from his home against his will is at risk for setting an industry wide precedent and prove the urban myth a reality.


Your training exercise for the day:

Was Mr Rothwell, based on the EMS1.com story facts as reported, kidnapped?

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