Oct 1, 2010

Has the system failed?

I know this is a bit late from the signing of the bill but it still grinds my gears thinking about it, and I think the story still needs to get out there.

Drunken drivers cause about 9,000 accidents and kill approximately 400 people annually in New York State.

NY State has taken several steps over the past year to strengthen its drunken and impaired driving laws. For instance, Leandra’s Law made it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car and, as of August 15, will require everyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony drunken driving offense, even first time offenders, to install and maintain an ignition interlock device in any vehicle they drive. On 13th of July, 2010 the Jack Shea’s law went into effect which expands who can draw blood in suspected NY drunk driving cases. Which now includes advance EMS practitioners.

It seems that the stance by several of the agencies in the state will be one of no compliance towards the law.

Why is EMS going to drop the ball here?

Simply put LIABILITY. Since when does our service to the population we serve take a back burner to the perception of legal terror that may occur.

Let me shed light on the history of the law here. Jack Shea a former USA Olympian gold medalist was involved in an accident. The 91 year old male was struck by an intoxicated driver, both transported to a small area hospital with no Physician in house. With two injured patients, Mr. Shea being the worst off, the Physicians assistant and RN worked on him. The NYS Trooper asked the Advanced EMT to draw the suspected DUI drivers blood, blood draws already being in his/her scope of practice . The drivers Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was found to be 0.15% or nearly twice the legal limit. The driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and driving while intoxicated, after Mr. Shea's death.

Seems cut and dry right? I thought so too, but apparently the loop hole created by the devil spawn known as DUI defendants shed light on the fact that the law required all DUI blood draws be supervised by a Physician in NY.

The defense motioned that because no on duty physician was in this small hospital at the time the blood draw to supervise, that the sample collected had to be thrown out!!! 

The man who killed Jack Shea had charges dropped. 

Now if blood draw is already in the scope of practice then I would hope you would comply with the law, regardless of liability. Unfortunately I know there are some who may disagree with me, case and point being talk on JEMS Connect about Taking a blood sample for police in a DUI regarding similar legislation in Ohio. I feel that any way we can close a loop hole and can commit these scum who drive drunk we should.

Unfortunately its only my opinion.

Be Safe
Ambulance Junkie

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