Congress is racing to address a problem toxicologists say probably doesn’t exist: the dangers to police and emergency medical technicians of incidental exposure to the powerful drug fentanyl. I explain in a new piece at Reason.
In California, ambulance companies pay local governments for monopoly franchises on 911 calls, then send the bill to insurers: “So cash strapped counties are in on the business of fleecing insurance companies, and through them, people and businesses who pay premiums” [John H. Cochrane]
Yaugeni Kralkin injured himself jumping out the back of a speeding ambulance in Staten Island, and now he wants money from New York City, its fire department and four emergency workers. “Mr. Kralkin was incredibly drunk, with a blood-alcohol level so high he was unaware of his actions, he says, even as he unbuckled straps and ultimately dived from the vehicle, according to his lawyer. The emergency medical workers failed in their duty to protect him, the lawsuit contends, even from himself, in his inebriated state.” [Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times]
“Two Virginia volunteer firefighters were suspended for transporting an 18-month-old girl to the hospital in a fire engine last Saturday, ultimately saving her life.” When the girl had a seizure, the two were first to respond and took her to a Fredericksburg hospital. “[Captain James] Kelley said they were suspended because their fire engine is licensed as a ‘non-transport unit’ and doesn’t have the proper restraints and medications that an ambulance would have. He said when this kind of thing happens firefighters are praised, but then disciplined.” [FoxNews]
“You hired me to reform EMS in the District of Columbia…” Amazing resignation letter sent to Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser [Jullette Saussy]
Fire unions have secured laws requiring that firefighting units be deployed to mishaps at which there is no fire risk [Coyote]
…but counsel for the Maryland State Medical Society told a panel in Annapolis that doctors fear liability should they prescribe it. In recent years police and first responders have increasingly been trained in the use of the emergency drug Naloxone, which counteracts overdoses from heroin and opiates, and a proposed bill would allow physicians to prescribe the substance to users, family members, and others who might intervene in case of an overdose. [Rebecca Lessner, Maryland Reporter]
George Tolley, representing the Maryland Association of Justice, a trial lawyers group, asked that the immunity provision be taken out of the bill, over a concern that it would have “a domino effect” and could impact people administering other emergency drugs, such as for epilepsy and diabetes.
“If (doctors) exercise reasonable care, then they cannot be sued,” Tolley said.
Bill Sponsor Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, D-Baltimore County, responded “That’s the crux of this whole bill.”
“A Colorado man, despite acknowledging that he’s lucky to be alive after being trapped in a submerged car, has filed an intent to sue his rescuers for half a million dollars.” Roy Ortiz says “he needs help paying medical bills,” and his attorney Ed Ferszt adds, perhaps not entirely helpfully, “It’s unfortunate to have to try and cast liability and responsibility for this act of God on the men and women who risked their own lives.” [ABC, CBS Denver, The Denver Channel, Broomfield Enterprise]
- Defense medico-legal expert sees 1,000+ cases a year, testimony infuriates NYC judge [Eric Turkewitz: first, second, third, overview posts]
- More commentary on Supreme Court’s generic drug pre-emption case, Mutual v. Bartlett [James Beck, more, Michael Krauss, earlier]
- New JAMA paper, “The Looming Threat of Liability for Accountable Care Organizations and What to Do About It” [Bill of Health]
- “Obamacare and Activist State Courts Drive Up Health Plan Costs” [Hans Bader, CEI “Open Market”]
- New York: emergency medical technicians protected by sovereign immunity principles [Alex Stein, Bill of Health]
- “A New FDA for the Age of Personalized, Molecular Medicine” [Peter Huber, Manhattan Institute via Alex Tabarrok]
- From an unexpected source? Left-leaning Center for American Progress publishes report on reducing cost of defensive medicine by Ezekiel Emanuel et al. Meanwhile, trial lawyers trumpet study of veterans’ hospitals they say undercuts defensive medicine case [client-recruitment site AboutLawsuits.com] And in the UK: “13,000 died needlessly at 14 worst NHS trusts” [Telegraph]
EPA-mandated diesel-engine governor shuts down ambulance carrying patient in cardiac arrest to emergency room. [WTTG; Washington, D.C.] The D.C. fire union says emissions-control engine governors, the result of an EPA mandate, have shut down rescue vehicles during missions at least three times since August. Following strenuous protests from rescue squads around the country, EPA last May waived the application of the rules for fire trucks and ambulances, but D.C. is apparently stuck with vehicles acquired before the waiver.