The paramedic faced a dilemma. After responding to the home of a woman with an open wound in February 2016, he was ordered by a doctor back at the hospital to drill a catheter into her arm.
But the woman, a believer in alternative medicine, refused the treatment. Instead, the paramedic offered to perform Reiki, a Japanese healing technique based on “life force energy” that many doctors believe lacks scientific credibility. The paramedic was fired days later.
In a case that raised questions about paramedics’ responsibilities to their patients versus their employers, a jury decided last week that the man, Michael Senisch, was wrongfully terminated by AtlantiCare for how he handled the situation.
Patrick Hill, an assistant professor at Rutgers University who teaches ethics and law, agreed that Senisch made the right call.
“He’s not at liberty to overrule a decision and force treatment on a patient who doesn’t want it,” Hill said, adding of the doctor’s order: “It may well be the correct medical decision, but again, with a competent patient, that’s still the patient’s prerogative to say, `No, thank you.’ ”