Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sticky Situation

OK here's an interesting scenario and I'd like to hear from you. According to this story  http://bit.ly/bzSYxz a Jefferson Parish deputy recorded on his cell phone the dying testimony of a gunshot victim while in the back of the ambulance. 

My question: Is this OK or not OK? We all know HIPPA law prevents any of us medical people from recording images, voice or any specifics about patients, particularly if they will be made public (as this recording surely would be). Even our conversations must be tailored so as not to divulge such information. Does HIPPA include such informal legal testimony? If you were the paramedic, would you prevent the deputy from recording your patient? If there were no police around, would YOU record the patient's testimony?

The legal implications seem frought with peril. A video is far more convincing evidence in court than the debatable memory of a paramedic who was distracted with patient care. On the other hand, remember the trial of the shooters at the Louisiana Avenue car wash? They were acquitted despite there being a video of them shooting. How much of a risk would it be to your job if you knowingly allowed a police officer to video record your patient?

Oh, and if you are the paramedic who was on this scene, I'd love to hear from you about any backlash or issues that may have come up with this.

Write your comments using the link below. Thanks!


Sean said...

OK according to this, it's not a HIPPA violation http://tinyurl.com/yc9yf4p

Anonymous said...

I was on one the responding units on that call. The patients dying testimony was recorded on scene while being packaged for transport not enroute to the hospital because the deputy followed the units to the hospital. But even if it were recorded enroute I don't see a problem with it being that if you didn't allow them to voice record would that not be considered interfering with a police investigation?

Anonymous said...

I am the paramedic in question and will let all know that the news reporting is false, as usual. My patient was video recorded by jp's cell on scene, while I was straping patient to spine board. The deputy asked for my permission prior to recording. I believe that ems and police MUST work together. As long as it does not interfere in my patient care then jp is allowed to conduct their investigation as seen fit, whether it occurs on scene, in my unit, or in the er. Considering my patient went 10-7 enroute proves excellent jp work. However I do know my limits. I would never voice or video record a patient's last testimony. I am ems not jp and should only record info into my narratve as was done with the other victim by ems.

kflmedic said...

I can honestly say I'm not sure how I see this. I'm working from the police side now as a medic, so I can understand the need for the recording, but as a medic I would have to stop and consider if it's "right". If I was pretty sure the guy was going to die, from the police side, I would do "whatever necessary" to get his statement, but from a medical side my emphasis would be on medical care and not the law side. I have come across this sticky situation a couple of times and it doesn't get easier. What comes first for me, medical or law? I don't fear any HIPPA or medical backlash becasue I feel the dept will back me, but if I had to really and truly stand up and say, "No, medical before law", I'm not sure how that would be accepted. I do agree,it should be wrong for us to video any part of patient care, but is it wrong for cops to come in and video or voice record? Kinda leaves us at the very first, do the ends justify the means?

Sean said...

Excellent! Thank you for letting us know. After reading the HIPPA article I linked above, I would have come to the same decision.

And as far as the journalism goes, I've had my own experiences with them. "Are they describing the same scene I was on?"


Chad said...

Well, #1. As a Paramedic, it is a big no no to take pictures. I learned this first hand in 1999. #2 If what the Deputy is doing does not impede with Pt care, and he is already there in the coffin with you, what's the harm as long as it's being done in an official capacity.

T-MAN said...

All I have to say, is anything to get the murderer fried in a chair go for it. We are way to soft on criminal's and need to change the we as a society handles those who break the law. Electric couch to fry 5 or 6 at a time!!. Btw Chas is that a machine gun in you pocket or are you just happy to see us!!

TOTWTYTR said...

There is no HIPAA issue here, as this was a police officer performing his duty. Whether it is legal or not from a 4th Amendment standpoint is not the business of EMS personnel.

We hate when other people stick their noses in our business, so what makes anyone think that we should get in the way of the police doing their job?