Why don't people think?

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My husband and I were on our way to the mall and we see a man laying on the side of the road. There were tons of bystanders hovering over him. I didn't think nothing of it I just figured he might of slipped on ice or something. Well later on I find out that he was struck by a pick up and later died of a broken neck and internal bleeding.

So now I am thinking why would these people move him? He would have passed away because of the internal bleeding but why move him. I am only a student, but am I in the wrong for thinking that way?


Altra, BSN, RN

6,255 Posts

Specializes in Emergency & Trauma/Adult ICU.

If there's any reason at all to think that someone may have a spinal cord injury (the "broken neck" in this situation) it is not wise for untrained people to move them unless they're still in harm's way.

Many bystanders hesitate to act. The reasons vary - shock, lack of knowledge, fear of liability, etc. I firmly believe that it's far better for a member of the general public to use the phone and call 911 than to try to help when they're unsure of what to do.

Your desire to help is admirable. You're on the right path. :nurse:

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,553 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

So the bystanders moved him and you're wondering why? Perhaps he was in traffic and they felt the need to get him out of the road.

You're correct, they shouldn't have moved him, that's up to the paramedics to immobilize him and move him.


587 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

i now know not to move them because you must always assume that they have a neck injury. But I was taught that. That was not common sense to me. Sorry, but maybe they just didn't know and ofcourse were trying to help.


162 Posts

It's sad that things like that happen but I think this is where it is important that not only do we as nurses teach our patients, but I feel we also have an obligation to teach the general public. Whether it be through writing letters to the editor, volunteering within our community to teach first aid (where you would learn not to move someone in that situation), or even taking the time to correct inaccurate information from a conversation that you are overhearing. As a nurse, we can help teach the public about helping others through these examples and try to help to prevent these mistakes from happening.

A good one that I always think of is how the public, and sadly health care professionals too, believe that the flu shot is for the "stomach flu" and discuss how they don't bother to get the flu shot because it "gives them the flu" or it doesn't work, when they are very misinformed as to what the flu shot is. I think a good education campaign on this could help decrease the number of influenza infections.

not now, RN

495 Posts

Specializes in LTC, med-surg, critial care.

People's first reaction is to make an injured person feel better and get them out of harms way. If they aren't trained in the medical profession they don't know any better. They think they are helping.


192 Posts

Like one of the times you may consider moving someone is.

If a car was on fire because the other threat of fire is the greater threat.

This happened to my brother where a car went out of control ,hit another car then hit my brother walking across the street .The car was on fire and had partly ran over my brothers legs he had a broken neck ,which those standing arround didn't know at the time.The people standing arround just had to pull him fast other wise he would have died in the fire.

It would all depend on the case But in most cases you would not want to move someone .Without aide of backboard and shuch.

Aneroo, LPN

1 Article; 1,518 Posts

Specializes in Cath Lab, OR, CPHN/SN, ER.

Ditto- Lay people do not understand (most of them) the importantance of c-spine immoblilization after ANY possible injury. If a nursing home patient falls, even then they should not be moved until injury is ruled out.

In my EMS training however, we learned to protect ourselves first. Once we're safe, it's our partners safety, then the patient. Those people might not have known to keep c-spine, but they knew that continuing to lay out in traffic would cause more injury (getting hit by another car). -andrea


105 Posts

My husband is a policeman, and he doesn't touch people either. Especially if there are body fluids involved. He says that EMS is already coming, and they can deal with it. I was incredulous, and said, "if someone really needed CPR, you would do it!". But he's pretty reluctant, with all the hepatitis and other crud floating around. It's a work hazard for him. He generally has gloves on his duty belt, but he doesn't carry a gown or splash mask or anything like that.

His #1 priority is to come home safe. I don't blame him.

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