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Discussion Starter #1
I just saw a video on a lady who was on her way home from a party at work. She was involved in an accident and a co worker pulled her from her car. As a result she is now a paraplegic (at least that is what her lawyer says) The coworker says he was afraid the car was going to catch fire.

If this law suit is successful a lot of good samaritans may reconsider getting involved. Some may not care but if I am right there will be many who keep on going turning a blind eye for fear of being sued. I know there are several other Medical professionals on the site. I would like to hear what they think and the rest as well.
 

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Would I, if there was imminent life threatening danger of the car catching fire, it wouldn't have made a difference either way to me. Any other scenario where hers or others lives were in peril, I would have acted similarly because I'm trained to determine the proper course of action. In a non-life threatening situation, depending upon the trauma she sustained, would have a direct impact on how I would have reacted and what actions I would have taken. People will be people, some will be thankful and gracious for the assistance, still others will look for any instance to acquire wealth the easiest way possible.

I realize it's possible that she has lost her only means of support but I don't know the whole story of her life situation. In turn, without the entire story from both sides and witnesses, it's almost impossible to determine if it was necessary to move her. Sadly, if you have to think about this, then your good intentions of assisting are lost and you should just stay out of the picture. This is an old problem that will never go away. You just have to determine what you can realistically do to assist to preserve life. If you keep that in mind it will guide you in your actions.

Problem with the situation is, his act of good faith may have caused her paralysis. It also could have been injuries sustained in the accident only a qualified physician will know. My recommendations to anyone in a similar situation would be, call for immediate assistance, calm the victim if alert, stop any immediate bleeding, secure the area and wait for those medically trained and instructionally insured to act on their behalf. If you absolutely have to act, "don't guess" and endanger them or yourself further. If the persons life is in immediate peril, stay calm, think clearly, do only what is necessary to remove them from that peril without further increasing it or endangering yourself. If you can't determine and do both, stay away.

Lee, to many people don't have the required training or skills to act safely on behalf of an accident victim and often increase the danger or injury.

Cheers
Jeff:motorbike2:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Jeff I agree some times people with little or no training intercede and make the situation worse. I have seen a person doing chest compressions on someone once when I arrived at a scene. The person looked at me and said I could not get their jaw open so I did compressions. The person was having a seizure and was not in arrest or respiratory distress.
That said there are times when even untrained assistance is needed to help someone in need. It will be sad to see the Good Samaritan Act diminished we can only hope it will still stand.
 

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Different situations call for different solutions, if I had a heavy crash on my bike I wouldn't want the first person to come along and yank off my helmet ! I would hope they would ascertain my breathing passages were ok and that I was able to speak.

My 2nd son was involved in a car accident, he was in the rear seat and went thru the rear window when hit by a speeding car. He was walking around the accident area with a broken neck and didn't know. The ambulance came and the first thing they did was put a neck-brace on him. That saved his life.

Yes you want people to come to your aid but you don't want guys coming in boots n all, you want sensible aid.


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Ride on ! :)
 

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TB your exactly right. There are too many situations to comprehend. Sometimes helping out is no more than keeping the accident victim still and quiet. Other situations call for direct intervention. It's difficult at best to determine the best action. That's exactly why before you render aid you have to realistically think, "am I really going to be able to help in this situation." Will my actions make things worse or actually help. You can't go blindly running into emergency situations half cocked. There are people that have what we call the, "Hero Syndrome" and these people are nothing but dangerous. They dream so much about being a public hero, they will blindly run into an accident situation trying to render aid, with the only intention of trying to gain public notariaty. I've seen it happen before and they cause so many problems for victims and professionals alike. You will see them show up at every accident site. Some will actually by police scanners to monitor when and where accidents occur. It's sick I know, but it happens.

Cheers
Jeff:motorbike2:
 

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harmful help

I was have lunch with a girlfriend one time and saw an elderly lady fall on the ice outside in the parking lot. Several people ran outside and the first thing they did was drag the old lady to her feet even though she obviously had a broken hip and one foot was pointed behind her. Luckily there was a nurse that went out and kept the crowd of people from having the old gal do jumping jacks and sat her back down until the paramedics arrived a few minutes later.

My girlfriend thought that I was a terrible person for not jumping in the middle of the fray. My point was that they should have kept her warm and still until professional help arrived and that they were most likely doing much more damage by dragging her to her feet than would have been done by a few minutes on the cold ground.

I don't think people should be liable for damages when trying to help someone because it will keep many people from giving aid when needed. On the other hand I think people should be responsible realize that sometimes the proper course of action is to keep the injured person calm and still until help arrives.

Pops
 

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People with possible traumatic injury should not be moved unless there's a compelling reason to do it. It's best to immobilize the victim as much as possible and wait for the ambulance crew. Hysteria about the car "catching fire" is just stupid, they mostly don't.

I've seen people do some dumb things, have no idea why they always feel the need to pull the victim up to his/her feet, or out of the car, or whatever.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Perhaps I have not clarified the point I am trying to make. Do you want to move someone unnecessarily of course not. The Good Samaritan Act applies to many aspects of giving aid. CPR, perahps putting a simple blanket over someone to keep them warm but the main thing is they stop and give assistance. Even if it is holding a hand until help arrives. There many times that a good samaritan has stopped to give aid and it has helped.
 

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I'd say a qualified physician might know, but I'm just splitting hairs.
FWIW many, if not most, physicians are almost useless at an accident scene. Many of them don't know how to think outside the nice controlled environments they typically work in.

It may also depend on their specialty. Many go into specialties (psychiatry, dermatology, physiatry, etc.) where they forget what blood looks like and how traumas work. We had an unforgettable incident where a reserve doctor was sent, despite his protests, to a combat medical team a few kilometers away in south Lebanon (in '82). The guy was completely confused and useless with wounded coming in under fire. Turns out he was a psychiatrist... Paramedics on a scene know that even when someone pulls up and says 'I'm a doctor' or 'I'm a nurse', they (the medics) still own the scene and the patient.

Other comments are absolutely correct. Do as little as possible. Keep patients safe, still, and calm if possible. That includes dry and warm this time of year. That can have a real effect on morbidity/mortality a bit later on. Jeff/Skull Crusher knows of whence he speaks...
 

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BTW, Lee, I think there were plenty of folks turning a blind eye even before this incident. I doubt it changes much.

Good Sam laws stand. Sleazy lawyers do, too. As long as we have the latter, we will see specious suits from time to time. I have no opinion about this particular suit, not knowing the dirty details; but it does sound like the guy acted in good faith.
 

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Do as little as possible. Keep patients safe, still, and calm if possible.
At the scene that's certainly the nub of it but the thing all us non-medics could do is take basic first aid training periodically so that we know how to keep patients safe.
 

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FWIW many, if not most, physicians are almost useless at an accident scene
I so much agree with you here. There are far to little trauma doctors available in the first place and second they're never exposed to direct action. The first hour is the most important of a victims life. Stabilizing them from further complications or injury is paramount. Very rarely do they come in contact with a doctor during this time. EMT's, Para Medics, and other trained medical personnel are the key to survival or a full recovery.

An untrained persons genuine feelings are always leaning towards doing something now without complete thought! Victims are looking for calmness from the people who are attending to them. There physical stress is already at it's peak and needs little more than worry to tip them over into shock. It is a situation that we try to avoid as much as possible. There are instances where you have to act quickly but it needs to be done correctly to limit additional complications. So many scenarios and so many different applied actions. I'm sorry that the gentleman has to go thru this type of situation. I know that his intentions were to save her life. However, most of those intentions are brought about under sever stress and panic. Neither are a very good basis for decision making. The lawyer will obviously accentuate and use this as a point of contention in the trial.:mad:

HiD, I was referring to the aftermath of the accident not immediately following. I apologize, I didn't make that very clear. A proficient orthopedic or neurological physician can tell due to shearing of the spinal column, compression or extension of the fractured vertebra, torn or severed nerves and so on. Trauma has a distinct pattern and causes be identified readily.

Cheers
Jeff:motorbike2:
 

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Here is more info from the LA times.

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/medicine/la-me-good-samaritan19-2008dec19,0,6547898.story

And the video from abc news.

http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6498405&page=1

Best indication of whether the person caused the spinal cord injury is:
Could the person feel and move their legs before they were moved?
Could the person feel and move their legs after they were moved?
If the answer is yes and no, then the act of moving exacerbated the injury. Probably have to take the patients word for it, as it sure doesn't sound like anyone was doing a neurologic exam at the scene.

If the patient was unconscious for the whole time, and not moving, it would be very difficult to determine if the act of moving caused the injury.

It certainly is true that many and perhaps most physicians are not a great help in the prehospital setting. If I had a major off on my bike, the first face I would want to see would not be an ophthalmologist, but a seasoned paramedic. Then again, if I went to the hospital with severe abdominal pain, I'd rather see an experienced emergency MD than a paramedic. We all function best in our home environment.

I think the point of this case is:

1. If you are going to help someone, as the lawyer said in the video, "you can't be careless without consequence."

2. When someone becomes a paraplegic, lawsuits are sure to follow. Juries are very sympathetic to plaintiffs in wheelchairs and with no means to support themselves.
 

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The problem is a jury won't take the unchallenged, unprofessional word of the victim. This is a good thing because in panic situation and accident aftermath these things aren't clearly thought of by the victim, nor are they completely in control of their cognitive reasoning. So recognition of their state and the cause is at best sketchy. There will have to be a professional determination made. All the EMT's personal efforts will be in identifying injuries and stabilizing the victim for transport, not determining a cause. An attending physician and specialist will be involved once they arrive at the emergency or trauma center. As no one else is qualified professionally to determine the cause and extent of the injury, they will be subpoenaed to appear. In fact, they will most likely be questioned and cross examined more than anyone else in appearance at the trail.

Cheers
Jeff:motorbike2:
 

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We're getting a bit off topic, but I think if a jury heard from a victim that they could feel and move their legs until their co-worker yanked her like a rag doll, and then they immediately felt their legs go dead and have been in a wheelchair ever since, well, I wouldn't want to be the opposing lawyer cross examining the now crippled victim trying to make them look like a liar.

The attending physicians opinion is always given serious consideration, but when you have a credible believable witness who now has no other way to support themselves, this can sway a jury quite a ways.

BTW, I have no idea if this is what occurred in this case or not.

Wow, we really need some lighter topics at this time of year!

Merry Christmas all!
 
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