The 911 Refusal Policy

@pyewacket (44036)
United States
July 1, 2007 1:25am CST
I do hope one of my neighbors is all right. Earlier this evening while I was sitting in front of my computer, I heard this uproar from outside my door....Right away almost every apt. door opens to see what's what...I didn't see anything on my second floor landing so started down the stairs...the neighbor, Pat from the third floor was sprawled on the floor on the first floor near the stairs... The story goes, she had just come home from a dinner date with a friend of hers, was going up the stairs and lost her balance and fell done the flight of stairs--naturally we were all concerned about any injuries, but she kept refusing anyone to call 911...FINALLY, the friend who she had had dinner with convinced her that they should call for an ambulance so she could be checked out by the ER for any serious injuries--so eventually an ambulance came and took Pat to the hospital...sure hope it's nothing too serious Now I'm bringing this all up, since it IS the policy--one that I think is kind of stupid, that if someone refuses 911 help in some kind of accident situation that the ER medics have to honor that refusal...My question is...do you think that's right? Especially when some kind of serious injury could be involved?
17 people like this
18 responses
@susieq223 (3742)
• United States
1 Jul 07
It is frustrating, but right, I think. Each person has the right to make their own decisions, even stupid decisions like refusing medical help when they could be seriously injured. If we started overriding people's rights about one thing, it could spread to other things. It may, for instance, be against that person's religion to obtain medical help. It can be sticky, those kinds of situations. I'm glad someone finally convinced her to get checked out.
3 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
I'm glad she finally went...I haven't heard anything of what happened or if she's still in the hospital...I imagine she is
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60763)
• United States
1 Jul 07
unfortunately, if someone refuses help, then the EMS people have to abide by the choice, as stupid as it may be. People have the choice to be stupid and as much as the techs might not like it, then the person has the right to suffer, even die. Now, if the person becomes unconcious, many times the techs will begin treatment, because the person is no longer denying treatment, in fact, many times they are happiest if the person starts out unconcious so that once treatment is started most of the time it can't be stopped. If you have ever taken an CPR course then you know that once you start treatment, you can't stop, no matter how tired you become - a reason some people never start treatment even if they are trained. I know that I was rather shocked by the information when I too the CPR course back in the early 80's. My quilifications have long since expired, but that was at least part of why I never renewed them.
3 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
I think my neighbors' stupidity in a way was out of plain fear...let's face it no one likes the idea of going to a hospital...I'm glad though that her friend finally convinced her to go though...once the guys came they wanted to put a board on her back and a collar to keep her stable..she refused that as well...so she had to sign a consent form stating her refusal of that, so protecting the EMS guys from a nice lawsuit in case something happened to her or more injury due to her refusal
2 people like this
• United States
2 Jul 07
Yes because they and the city could be sued. I think that is the reason this refusal policy was instated to begin with. It's just another protection rule instated due to our sue happy country. Now if the person is clearly out of their mind with deliria or what have you then they can overrule it. But if they're clear of mind and refuse they can't. I hope your neighbor is okay. Please let us know :)
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
5 Jul 07
She's home now...they only kept her at the hospital overnight...nothing more than bad bruises actually, but from the way she was reacting it could've been a broken shoulder..wasn't though---she has to see the doc again next week for a follow-up check up
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Jul 07
That's really good :) I'm glad that she wasn't seriously injured. Thanks for letting me know :)
@emeraldisle (13146)
• United States
1 Jul 07
To some degree I do think it's right but I think there should be exceptions. For example over a month ago it appears my sister had a TIA (mini stroke) and she refused assistance from the EMT's and even though she could barely hold the pen for the refusal they accepted it. It shouldn't have been due to her not being in her right mind. In those cases her rights should be over ridden. I've also seen EMT's try to encourage people not to go. Back when I could work I worked in an ACLF where we had a guy fall and he had a cut on his head but this was an elderly gentleman who never fell, was never late for morning meds etc and he was today. I called EMT, they told him "Well you don't really want to go do you" and kept saying it till he agreed. Later that day he was EMT'd out due to a full blown stroke. He'd had a TIA before when we'd first called. If they had taken him when we called that might have been prevented. However since he signed the waiver it didn't matter. My personal opinion is when it appears not to be life threatening and the person is fully cognitive, and no one is there to tell them they aren't (IE family saying they aren't acting right) then yes they should accept their refusal. When it appears life threatening or the person is not totally with it then they should take them regardless.
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
I think it was only because I was around and consented to the EMS to take my mom to the hospital that they took her the very first time she had an apparent mini-stroke...she had passed out and unresponsive...once she came too, she was most uncooperating...but she wasn't exactly "all there"...so they took her
2 people like this
@emeraldisle (13146)
• United States
5 Jul 07
It's a good thing you were there to make sure they did. It seems to me everyone I know that has a TIA is often very beligerant right then. Not sure why but they sure seem to be.
@byfaithonly (10716)
• United States
1 Jul 07
Oh goodness I hope she's ok too. This is a difficult question - I can understand a person refusing. 17 years ago I fell at work and boss called 911, I was taken to hospital in ambulance and was billed $750 for a 6 mile drive :( The companies insurance paid it but if I didn't have insurance I would avoid calling if at all possible. On the other hand some injuries such as this lady where she could have internal or head injuries she should be checked because there could be something serious wrong and her not even know. So, someone could refuse 911 but have a head injury and not be thinking right. Kinda like my #2 son when he was in a car accident - when I got to the accident siene he was getting ready to be put in the ambulance but reached over, took my hand and said, "I'm ok Mom". At the hospital we found out the hand it took ahold of my hand with was broken and although he was the 'level headed one' before EMTs got there he had a concussion and didn't know anything at all that had happend from the second the accident happened.
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
Wow---just goes to show that people shouldn't be so stubborn to refuse 911 help, since injuries could be far worse than first imagined.
1 person likes this
@byfaithonly (10716)
• United States
1 Jul 07
Yea and I really felt like 'crap' afterwards because I know he was 'subconsciously' just thinking of comforting Mom... Long story my daughter had been hit by a car while at her dad's for the weekend just a few months before - there were times the doctors didn't think she was going to make it. I know Shannon knew I was going to be thinking the same thing was going to happen to him. Praise the Lord they both came through. He was only 16 at the time and 'my good son' never gave me a minute of stress until he joined the Air Force :(
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Jul 07
I hope your neighbor is alright too. It is not right that the ER cannot treat someone that is seriously injuried but I think if the person refuses there is nothing they can do, I do know that when you call an ambulance these days, it is very, very expensive and if I didn't have to, I wouldn't call one, even if it was for an accident.
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
I've had quite a bit of experience about the hospital thing because of my late mother...many times when she wasn't feeling well she'd walk over to the ER--and thank goodness our hospital is just a little bit more than a block away...But I do know how expensive ambulances are...the two times I did have to call for 911 and an ambulance to take her to the hospital...it cost $100!! and this for just down the block!
2 people like this
• United States
1 Jul 07
What a deal, $100 is nothing, here in Texas they charge in excess of over $300-$500 for a ride to the hospital via an ambuluance, it is robbery. I would gladly pay the $100 if I had an emergency, you begin to reconsider it when it gets too high as it is here.
1 person likes this
@Debs_place (10528)
• United States
3 Jul 07
Well, it is the law, the EMTs have no say. If they take someone against their wishes (provided the person is deemed to be competent) they can be arrested for kidnapping. Also, many calls end up in refusals, and rightly so. If a serious injury is involved, most people will not refuse an ambulance and the EMTs/Paramedics will try to talk the injured person into going to the hospital
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
5 Jul 07
Silly law though as the injury could be something worse than what is suspected
@gabs8513 (48764)
• United Kingdom
2 Jul 07
First of all I do hope that your Neighbour is ok I do and I don't agree with it I do because it is classed as respect for the Person's wishes but I don't as if it is serious they should be aloud to just act Now I know I would not refuse help in such matters. But I do believe that when it is a serious Matter they should be aloud to act
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
5 Jul 07
Seems my neighbor is fine actually--got word she's home again..nothing but a really bad bruise nothing broken...that's good
• United States
1 Jul 07
Being in the health care system for 20 years it is a law to protect the person's right to refuse medical treatment. If a person refuses medical treatment then I would hope the ambulance drivers would call the police for help if it is a bad injury if not so bad then have the patient sign a release form. Why this law became about was amblulance drivers taking people against their wills and law suits. If the ambulance people take the person against their permission it is considered kidnapping. If someone is really injured and needs medical help they can call and get the police arrest the person on a psych hold for 72 hours and sometimes that works. Not all people want medical treatment and that is within their rights. Sounds silly to you and I at times but what if we where told we had to have a surgery we felt we did not need. That is the same thing in my book.
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
5 Jul 07
Another stupid law are those Hippa Privacy laws...and I had personal experience with that...my mother never signed one for her psychiatric problems...so because of that I had no intervention in her clinical care..and she was the loser for it...she did have a lot of emotional problems and could have been better treated, but since she didn't sign the proxy, the therapist hadn't a clue her real problems...she was a great actress...she didn't sign a proxy until the last months of her life then it was too little too late...she could've had so much better of a life...if she had only allowed me to intervene in her behalf--oh well...
@psyche49f (2512)
• Philippines
1 Jul 07
In my opinion, if one refuses (the victim), then a family member should decide and compel the victim to submit herself/himself to 911 help, otherwise...in other words, the victim is not in a position to refuse help; it should be a close family member who should be consulted, or the leader of the group...but with that accident, it was just fitting to call 911 in case a serious damage have actually happened to her...No, I don't think that's right. When in doubt, it's good to act at once, rather than wait for the victim herself/himself to decide...
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
Well at least my neighbor's friend finally convinced Pat to go to the hospital...a good just in case measure to make sure the injuries weren't worse than seemed
1 person likes this
@brendalee (6084)
• United States
1 Jul 07
I hope your neighbor is okay now. I worked as an EMT for my local ambulance service for many years, so I have seen people refuse help alot. Many of those people can usually be talked into it especially if the police are called. Now, in my community, the police are sent out with every ambulance call. But to answer your question, no I don't really think it is right but you can't make someone do something that they don't want to. People can be very stubborn and don't really realize how dangerous it can be to not get medical treatment.
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
They send the police with ambulance calls here too...My mother was a real winner! She had had a bad fall in October of 2005...She did go to the ER but walked out...she did this stupid game three times in a row...go into the ER and walk out again... I suspect she had had a mini-stroke...the impact of her fall was so bad that it knocked out her eye-alignment...she looked crossed-eyed!! Finally when she stayed put in the hospital they still had to put one of those monitor devices on her wrist...the jerk still wanted to just waltz out--the really annoying thing was that the Social Worker would ask...well why didn't your mother come into the hospital sooner for her injuries and all...like she was accusing me ..I said it was because she kept walking out!! Yeesh
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Jul 07
Even though I think it's stupid of anyone to refuse medical treatment after an accident or any other traumatic incident has occurred, but at the same time I do understand why the medical team won't do anything if they have been refused. It is to protect themselves and the company they work for from being sued. As sue happy as some people are I would be afraid of the same thing. Though everyone does have a choice on whether they wish to go through with it or not. Those trained in medical things, even though they know what could be better for the person, don't have the right to tell a person what to do or take it upon themselves to do something that in the long run could in fact cause the person a great deal more pain that they aren't willing to go through.
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
Kind of a silly paradox though...isn't it? Can't help thinking though what if the injury is more severe than thought
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Jul 07
I don't think it's right but if the shoe was on the other foot, I'd be upset if the medics didn't listen to me. It's sort of a catch 22. I know that I've taken what looks like a nasty fall, but I was very lucky that I landed just right because I didn't get hurt. But what if there was something internal and I wasn't feeling it? Sometimes being stubborn can have ill effects.
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
Well, the neighbor, Pat is a very stubborn person!!
1 person likes this
@misheleen73 (6037)
• United States
1 Jul 07
If someone refuses treatment from a paramedic or other EMS provider, they must sign a refusal waiver. This keeps them from being able to sue the paramedics, etc for not treating them. If someone passes out or is unconscious, the emergency workers may treat them as it is what is considered "implied consent" The person is not conscious to either ask for or dent help. If someone has a serious injury and is still conscious enough to refuse treatment, it is their right to do so. Some religions, etc refuse to use any kind of modern medicine. It is unfortunate, but it is their right. I work as a 911 dispatcher, so I do not know what the actual hospital policy is, just the EMS/Paramedic/Police policies.
2 people like this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
When the EMS finally did come, she did sign a waiver since they wanted to put both a back and neck brace on her..she refused that--so signed..but at least she was finally convinced to go to the hospital
1 person likes this
• United States
3 Jul 07
I don't agree with that policy either. I think if someone needs help, then they get it...who cares if they are stubborn!
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
5 Jul 07
Yes they definitely need help..particularly if the injury is worse than thought of--some injuries don't show up right away
• United States
1 Jul 07
Right or wrong if the party refuses treatment they have to honor the rquest. They can get dragged into court for treating an unwilling person just as fast as not treating an unresponsive person. The only time you can treat without any repercussions is when they are unresponsive. It sounds like a funny law, but people can be funny especially to the point of slapping would be good samaritans with law suits.
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
1 Jul 07
It unfortunate that this policy exists since it's really a case of the fear of being sued by a person
1 person likes this
@worldwise1 (14888)
• United States
5 Jul 07
I have a problem with that policy also, pyewacket. I mean, who in their right mind would refuse medical assistance if they are injured? It turns out that some people without insurance do not have the money to pay the exhorbitant EMT charges, so they will refuse. Not saying that this is true in your neighbor's case, but I hope she will be ok.
@Katlady2 (9921)
• United States
5 Jul 07
I think that the EMT's should be able to make the decision to take a person to the hospital if there are major injuries or it is a life threatening situation or even if there are no visible injuries but the person is obviously in a lot of pain and needs to be checked over. I can't understand why some people who are so obviously in need of medical attention and hurt refuse to let the medics do their jobs and take them in to be checked over. It's just beyond me at times.