Malpractice by paramedics has the potential to leave vulnerable children, in need of emergency medical care, seriously injured.
We all know the rules of the road when an ambulance comes screaming from behind or ahead of us. Pull the car over to the side of the road and let the transport vehicle pass. After all, they are most likely taking someone with emergency medical needs to the hospital. Among the people in the ambulance are the professionals that work to keep the patient alive or stable until they reach the Emergency Room (ER). Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics perform vital medical services en route to the hospital. Notably, the ambulance is not the only place to find them. In addition to ambulatory vehicles, they may be in helicopters, industrial safety zones, or fire departments. Their job is fast-paced, strenuous, and stressful as they meet people’s life and death needs each day. In addition to the EMS personnel who are responsible for transporting the patient and so much more, there is the patient themselves, which may be a baby, a young child, a teenager, an adult, or a senior.
When that patient is a child, there are special considerations that EMTs and paramedics must keep at the forefront of their minds, guiding their conduct every step of the way in an effort to protect and preserve the health and medical stability of the vulnerable child in need of their care. Despite this, instances of paramedic negligence occur on a regular basis, with mistakes and omissions potentially causing catastrophic injuries to pediatric patients with emergency medical needs. Read on to learn more about paramedic negligence in New Jersey, and your right to pursue compensation if your baby or child has been injured due to EMT malpractice. To speak with a dedicated medical malpractice attorney with vast experience handling pediatric injury claims, contact our team at 866-708-8617 today. We are pleased to provide you with a free initial consultation anytime.
What is Required to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in New Jersey?
To become an EMT or paramedic in New Jersey an individual needs to complete extensive education involving patient assessment for life-threatening injury and treatment. Specifically, they need to be over 18-years-old and complete 190 hours of EMT training. They may also spend time shadowing ER nursing staff. In addition, they must pass a physical, background check, written exam, and CPR certification course. They must be able to lift 125 pounds up to three feet high and communicate effectively with others in person, on the computer, and in writing. Most of all, they must be able to remain calm in emergency situations. In their coursework, for instance, they learn how to splint a broken bone at a car accident scene or administer epinephrine to a hyperventilating allergy sufferer. They also learn to perform CPR on an individual battling a heart attack. They even learn how to deliver a baby. Ultimately, they need all the skills necessary to identify life and death conditions and treat or stabilize the situation in an emergency.
Special Considerations for Paramedics when Handling Child Patients
EMS professionals must understand how to transport and care for infants, babies, and children as part of their training. The first consideration for providing emergency medical services to children is safe transportation. Since children come in different sizes and suffer unique medical conditions, an EMS provider must ensure that they secure a child in a size-appropriate constraint that prevents forward ejection and protects the child’s head, neck, and spine. The appropriate choice of restraint depends on the child’s condition. For example, a child without an emergency injury or illness can ride in a non-emergency vehicle in their car seat. In addition, they can transport an injured or ill child who does or does not need constant medical attention in a size-appropriate restraint that attaches to the ambulance cot. For spinal injuries, the child must be secured to a size-appropriate spine board to remain immobilized, and babies should never be in a parent’s lap during transport. A newborn generally must be in a rear-facing seat in the captain’s chair. Once children arrive safely by ambulance, they can get the emergency treatment they need from medical staff at the ER.
Top Reasons Parents call for an Ambulance for their Children
Children may need to be taken by ambulance to the hospital for many reasons, including head injuries, sprains, broken bones, fevers, infections, respiratory problems, and severe stomach aches or abdominal pain. Head trauma occurs when kids fall off bikes, scooters, swings, or other play equipment. Even with helmets, some children suffer head and neck injuries. And if they avoid hitting their head in common injuries, they still may sprain an ankle or break a bone falling during sporting activities, or on playground slides, swings, monkey bars, and jungle gyms.
More often, children become sick after hours with high fever, earaches, and respiratory problems. Parents may call 911 if a child has a severe asthma attack, suffers extreme weakness, or turns blue from pneumonia or bronchitis. In addition, high fevers, especially when accompanied by rashes and stiff joints, can frighten parents into rushing their children to the hospital. A high fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher can signal an infection. Finally, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea can be symptoms of a virus or something more serious, warranting a call to paramedics for emergency medical care and transportation.
While the conditions and injuries leading parents to call for emergency medical services are vast and varied, the top reasons for a child to ride an ambulance to an ER are respiratory problems that cause a child to turn blue, seizures, vomiting, or uncontrolled bleeding. In addition, when a child loses consciousness, suffers a severe head injury, ingests poison, or suffers a neck or spine injury, a parent will usually call for paramedics. Additionally, severe car accidents with resulting injuries often end with ambulances carrying drivers and passengers, including children, to the hospital.
Examples of Paramedic Medical Negligence that can Injure a Child
In all medical emergencies, a parent expects their child to arrive at the hospital quickly and safely to save their child’s life and avoid further injury. However, when a paramedic healthcare provider performs their duties negligently, they may make a bad situation far worse. For example, if an EMT driving an ambulance fails to obey the traffic laws, even for ambulances, to stop at red lights before proceeding through an intersection and causes an accident, they may be liable for not only the injured child in the ambulance, but for damages and injuries caused to others. And when an EMT fails to restrain a child properly because the ambulance is not equipped to handle pediatric emergencies, any further injury or fatality from such negligence may lead to a medical malpractice claim against them. Similarly, a paramedic who improperly administers medication to a child by miscalculating the dosage or not checking the medication expiration date, may be liable for the child’s complications, immediate and long-term medical needs, the family’s medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering caused by the pediatric patient’s injuries.
Child Injured by Paramedic/EMT Malpractice in NJ, What can I do?
Parents with children harmed by EMT or paramedic negligence in New Jersey may file a malpractice claim against the paramedic or EMT who caused the harm. Professional EMS providers have an established duty of due care to perform medical services according to the standard of care other EMS providers perform under similar circumstances. If they fail to uphold the proper standard of care while transporting, assessing, or administering services to a child in an emergency situation, they may be held liable for medical malpractice via a lawsuit. If you are a parent of a child harmed or further injured by an emergency transport professional’s negligence conduct, seek sound legal counsel from our highly qualified pediatric malpractice lawyers who have in-depth knowledge and experience in EMS provider malpractice. We can help assess your potential grounds for a paramedic negligence claim on behalf of your child and tirelessly represent your family’s interests throughout the New Jersey legal process. Contact 866-708-8617 for a free consultation.