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Black Lives Matter Protests and Medical Care

Posted

Hi!

Since every living person in the world knows about the protests against police brutality I don't think I need to go into any great detail about it. The point is here is not debate over that. What I'm curious about is the implications of providing medical care at a rally of march NOT associated with any institution or employer?

I am a licensed RN, I work at a local hospital. I went down to the first unorganized protest with some basic first aid supplies because I wanted to help if able. I was then put in contact with a small volunteer medic group here. My city had a large rally over the weekend(2,000+ people) and I joined this volunteer group to assist. So basically, it was me(9 year RN), 3 former EMT's, 2-3 people with CPR/first aid(not in the medical field), and 1-2 with no medical training or experience staffing a 2,000+ person event. Because protests are considered "unsafe"(even this one that was permitted) local emergency services/ambulances will not staff or have anyone on site. In fact, the two blocks surrounding the permitted protest site were barricaded off with cement barricades. I had to carry a young girl who fainted from heat exhaustion two blocks just to get her to where EMS said they could meet us.

Anyways, I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation? I have a decent amount of in-hospital experience(2 year med/surg, 5 year ICU, 2 year hem/onc), but I've never worked outside of a hospital. My concerns are more on the legal standpoint, and ya know, not losing my job. There is always the risk of being arrested at any protest, and I don't know what effect that would have with my employer. It's a lot to unpack but any advice or personal experience in the area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

I don't know if this falls under Good Samaritan laws or not, and those even vary by state. I'd be leery, you have potential for a lawsuit if one small thing goes wrong, as you are there acting on your own, not under MD orders. I think its a good thing that you're doing, just please be extra careful!

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU. Has 15 years experience.

49 minutes ago, Chris___RN said:

Hi!

Since every living person in the world knows about the protests against police brutality I don't think I need to go into any great detail about it. The point is here is not debate over that. What I'm curious about is the implications of providing medical care at a rally of march NOT associated with any institution or employer?

I am a licensed RN, I work at a local hospital. I went down to the first unorganized protest with some basic first aid supplies because I wanted to help if able. I was then put in contact with a small volunteer medic group here. My city had a large rally over the weekend(2,000+ people) and I joined this volunteer group to assist. So basically, it was me(9 year RN), 3 former EMT's, 2-3 people with CPR/first aid(not in the medical field), and 1-2 with no medical training or experience staffing a 2,000+ person event. Because protests are considered "unsafe"(even this one that was permitted) local emergency services/ambulances will not staff or have anyone on site. In fact, the two blocks surrounding the permitted protest site were barricaded off with cement barricades. I had to carry a young girl who fainted from heat exhaustion two blocks just to get her to where EMS said they could meet us.

Anyways, I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation? I have a decent amount of in-hospital experience(2 year med/surg, 5 year ICU, 2 year hem/onc), but I've never worked outside of a hospital. My concerns are more on the legal standpoint, and ya know, not losing my job. There is always the risk of being arrested at any protest, and I don't know what effect that would have with my employer. It's a lot to unpack but any advice or personal experience in the area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

First of all, thank you for what you are doing.

It definitely depends on what state you live in. As Hoosier said, the Good Samaritan laws vary by state. You could always get a free consultation with a lawyer who could advise you of the possible ramifications.

Edited by JadedCPN
typo

Daisy4RN

Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience.

I dont think that the Good Samaritan law would apply to you in this situation because you have purposefully put yourself there to provide medical care (I am not a lawyer though so not sure). Is this volunteer group an official organization that provides some type of liability coverage or just you and some people who happen to get together. I would be afraid of setting myself up for trouble if something bad were to happen (or even just being accused). As far as getting fired it would just depend on the situation etc, no way to know for sure but I would be more concerned about actions from the BON r/t your states nurse practice act. If I were you I would do some serious research into this before proceeding any further. It is always nice to want to help others, wishing you well, be careful!

Edited by Daisy4RN

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes. Has 9 years experience.

I am curious about my job if I got arrested for being at a protest (I assume that unless I was doing something really stupid that these charges are usually misdemeanor).

I personally would not volunteer to be part of a medic station or be a designated helper. If someone were to get injured and I was there, I would provide help as if it were an accident or medical emergency if I was in Walmart. That, I believe, would be covered by Good Samaritan laws.

I, personally, would go as a private citizen. Stay safe.

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

Honestly, I doubt that in all this chaos that anyone is worried about you. People are looting and destroying, authorities aren't worried about a concerned, peaceful citizen. The government has its hands full.

I doubt if your employer will fire you over your support against police brutality. Anyone who viewed the video saw the raw and blatant truth.

15 hours ago, Daisy4RN said:

I dont think that the Good Samaritan law would apply to you in this situation because you have purposefully put yourself there to provide medical care (I am not a lawyer though so not sure). Is this volunteer group an official organization that provides some type of liability coverage or just you and some people who happen to get together. I would be afraid of setting myself up for trouble if something bad were to happen (or even just being accused). As far as getting fired it would just depend on the situation etc, no way to know for sure but I would be more concerned about actions from the BON r/t your states nurse practice act. If I were you I would do some serious research into this before proceeding any further. It is always nice to want to help others, wishing you well, be careful!

Thanks. The group is organized in the sense that we coordinate beforehand, bring basic supplies, pass out water/snacks, and walk around to spot anyone potentially in danger or need of assistance. Beyond that, this is not an official group, it is not a non-profit, there is no certificate or business license.

Daisy4RN

Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience.

1 hour ago, Chris___RN said:

Thanks. The group is organized in the sense that we coordinate beforehand, bring basic supplies, pass out water/snacks, and walk around to spot anyone potentially in danger or need of assistance. Beyond that, this is not an official group, it is not a non-profit, there is no certificate or business license.

In that case (if it were me) I would not assist any further. There are just too many ways for this to go bad and you are out there by yourself (no official organization). Just using the example you provided (carrying a young girl) I would ask (yourself), how young, were the parents there, did they give you permission (and would it stick after the fact), what if something happened like you accidently tripped or got pushed and fell with the girl and she got hurt, got something thrown at you and it hit the girl, she had an unknown preexisting conditions that you inadvertently made worse (or got accused of making worse), or you get accused of not doing something you should have (as a HCP). I know I sound cynical but these things happen all the time. There have been threads here about even stepping in as a nurse when you just happen upon an emergency re: the liabilities. I guess it just depends on your willingness to put your job and license on the line. IMO, there are much better and safer ways to volunteer your time that would provide some level pf protection. And even if you have malpractice ins I don't think it would cover you in this case because it is not a official workplace or volunteer assignment (but you would need to check your policy). Also, your employeer can fire you for anything, not saying they would or wouldn't but you would know how they are better than anyone.

Good luck!

OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology. Has 4 years experience.

I wouldn't be worried about your employer but Id be worried about someone suing you since anyone will sue for anything in this country.

Daisy4RN

Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience.

I would be worried about being fired in the sense that if you either got arrested and/or had a malpractice lawsuit then the BON would be involved. And also not sure if this is even within the scope of practice.

Thank you for what you're doing!

Having said that, I personally wouldn't do it because you have everything to lose and nothing to protect you. If you were protesting and something happened and you helped, you may be protected by Good Samaritan laws. However, planning to be an off the books medic is another issue. Good Samaritan may not apply because it's planned. As others have said, check the laws in your state.

8 minutes ago, NurseBlaq said:

Thank you for what you're doing!

Having said that, I personally wouldn't do it because you have everything to lose and nothing to protect you. If you were protesting and something happened and you helped, you may be protected by Good Samaritan laws. However, planning to be an off the books medic is another issue. Good Samaritan may not apply because it's planned. As others have said, check the laws in your state.

Thanks for the input. I have been looking into NYS good samaritan laws. The answer is of course, ambiguous. I am not identifying myself as an EMT/Medic, or even a nurse. I don't think that having medical supplies on hand implies a duty to act, but that doesn't stop anyone from trying to sue.

https://law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2015/pbh/article-30/3000-a

My guess is that current protest medics are in greater danger of being harmed by police than sued by protesters in too large of a number of communities.

Katie82, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, PH, CM. Has 39 years experience.

On 6/8/2020 at 5:56 PM, Daisy4RN said:

I dont think that the Good Samaritan law would apply to you in this situation because you have purposefully put yourself there to provide medical care (I am not a lawyer though so not sure).

Laws vary State by State, but in most of the States I have lived and practiced in you would not be covered. This would not be considered a spontaneous, emergent situation, but a planned, deliberate act on your part. I'm not saying you are wrong to do this, but you may be putting your license on the line. Good Samaritan Laws are written with lay people delivering emergent care. Licensed persons would be held to a higher standard in most jurisdictions. Don't know if your employer would be too happy either.

Wouldn't it be nice if nurses shared some of the immunity that police enjoy for line of duty stuff?

14 hours ago, toomuchbaloney said:

Wouldn't it be nice if nurses shared some of the immunity that police enjoy for line of duty stuff?

Yeah, that thought has crossed my mind. It's insane to me that even if LEO's are sued the government pays the bill(ie: taxpayers). Really holding them accountable for their actions...