Emergency Medical Technicians encounter many different types of medical situations. In some instance, a patient may refuse medical treatment. If this occurs there are several important things to consider before discontinuing medical aid.
First and foremost, a mentally competent adult may refuse medical treatment at any time. Individuals that suffer from mental disorders may not refuse treatment. Children may not refuse treatment, but their guardians can refuse treatment for them.
When an EMT is confronted with a person who refuses care there are certain guidelines that should be followed. The EMT should ensure that the patient is capable of making rational and informed decisions. A patient who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, metal illness or who may be suffering from shock due to injury should receive medical attention. If the patient is rational but still refuses care, the EMT should inform the patient of what could occur if care is not given. This explanation should be specific and easily understood. Multiple attempts should be made to convince the patient to receive care. If the patient is adamant, the EMT should seek medical direction as to whether or not to transport the patient to a medical facility. The EMT should not make the decision not to transport a patient without consulting with a supervisor or other associate. If a decision is made to allow the patient to refuse care, a liability form should be signed by the patient and a disinterested witness. A disinterested witness is someone who is not a family member or friend of the patient. Before leaving, an EMT should inform the patient that he or she can call at any time for medical assistance and advise friends and family to stay with the patient. After the medical team leaves the patient, they should thoroughly document assessment findings and any medical care that was given to the patient on the prehospital care report.