Author Question: Consent Issues Peds ER

Carol Asks:


Hero’s daughter is spending the night at the heroine’s house b/c he has to work. They think she has the flu but is appendicitis and is gonna burst [based on a friend’s kid’s experience ;)]. Heroine wakes up to hear her crying in the middle of the night. Goes to check on her and gets her roomie who is a licensed [but not practicing] paramedic. Says we gotta get straight to the hospital but hero isn’t answering phone.

So, they get there, but dad’s nowhere to be found. Heroine knows daughter’s name/birthday but that’s it [not even an address].

1. Will they still try to find a patient in the computer based on the info they have [patient’s name, birthday, town, dad’s name etc]?
Jordyn: How old is the child? A first or second grader should know their address so they would look up her name and birthday and try and match the address. If not, they’ll just create a new chart. It’s possible to merge electronic records at a later time. Do they not even have a phone number to reach him? That would be pretty odd.
2a. How much credence will they give to the medic since it’s not someone they know? He’s gonna rattle off information [HR, BP, temp, etc] and don’t they have some sort of ID card he could use to back up his claim that he knows what he’s talking about?
Jordyn: It’s anecdotal. We’d probably be most interested in the temperature. She’ll get her vital signs taken at the time and it might be curious if they are markedly different than what the paramedic got. But, we won’t ask for his ID. We’ll just want to know what treatment they provided at home and probably the last time she ate or drank (for purposes of surgery that’s important to know.)
2b. Should they call the ER en route?
Jordyn: No, this is cheesy. People do it but it won’t move you up in line, it doesn’t reserve a spot, etc. We’ll say, “Okay, see you when you get here.” Unless they are requesting emergency info—like how to do CPR—it doesn’t make a difference in the care of the patient when they arrive. You’d be surprised how many people call and then never show up.
2c. Is it plausible they’re not too busy at 3am on Sunday morning? And go pretty straight back?
Jordyn: Yes, this is plausible.
3. Will the medical staff allow the heroine/medic back into the ER room etc. before dad gets there?
Jordyn: Yes, if she is the only adult and the daughter is comfortable with her, she’d be allowed back.
4. When dad gets there, will they require any ID for him to prove he’s dad?
Jordyn: Typically, we get ID and insurance card if they have one. Before that—attempts will be made to reach him via phone to get verbal consent to treat. This is a big deal with minors. If it’s not an emergency—medical treatment can wait. If it is an emergency—we can go ahead and treat regardless on consent. 


When she’s not writing about her imaginary friends, Carol Moncado is hanging out with her husband and four kids in the big yard of her southwest Missouri home, teaching American Government at a community college, reading, or watching Castle and NCIS. She’s a member of ACFW and RWA, founding member and current facilitator for the MozArks ACFW group, and a category coordinator for ACFW’s First Impressions. 

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