Has the EMS world gone lawsuit crazy?

Ask the Educator

 

 
 
 

Paul Werfel | | Friday, August 17, 2007


Dear Mr. Werfel,

I have taught basic and intermediate EMTs for two years now, and as my school prepares for new classes in the fall, they're requesting that I attend several classes on diversity and the like. They're also advising me to secure my own malpractice insurance. Has the EMS world gone lawsuit crazy over the last year or what? Do you see any reason why instructors should be concerned?

Thanks for your help on this

Lawrence in Maryland

--------------------------------------

Lawrence,

You didn't mention whether you taught for a college, municipality or a private organization. But even so, the easy answer to your question about the amount of lawsuits is "yes." It appears that plaintiffs are involving EMS in medical malpractice cases much more than they used to.

As an EMS standard of care expert witness, I can tell you that since 2000 I haven't been without a case pending on my calendar. I have been an EMS provider since 1975, but it seems that only in the last several years this has become an issue. Please understand that attorneys can imply that if the provider made a mistake, then the instructor that educated them is also liable.

To be honest, there is a huge area of potential liability for instructors and program directors. In fact, during my 17-year tenure at Stony Brook University, I can say with certainty that today's students (not only EMS students) are more willing than ever to secure the services of an attorney to address perceived wrongs. These issues are not only related to the obvious academic issues of scores, passing and failing exams, breaches of student confidentiality and academic dishonesty. Today's EMS instructor needs to concern themselves with much more than that. Other areas of potential exposure are:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act issues;
  • Lack of effective documentation;
  • Instructor/Course Director not following the institution's policy and procedures;
  • Discrimination;
  • Harassment;
  • Sexual Harassment;
  • Student injuries while on clinicals or from faulty equipment; and
  • Failure to supervise other students and instructors

As you can see, it's not your parent's classroom any more. We need to demonstrate the values we wish to see in our students. Judiciously using common sense, knowing where the problems are, and avoiding these issues are at the core of keeping us out of the legal minefield.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Legal and Ethical

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Four Killed in New Mexico Medical Plane Crash

Crash near fairgrounds claims patient and crew of three.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Involved in Crash

Odessa ambulance and car collide during response.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Las Vegas Fire, AMR Reach New Deal

Tentative agreement reached over ambulance calls.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Fire Damages Several Homes in California Earthquake

Four homes destroyed and others damaged after quake rattles Napa.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

NTSB investigates crash that killed four.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Over 100 Injured in California Earthquake

172 patients treated at Napa hospital after 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >