When many people who live in the Greater Toronto Area are injured or become ill, their first step is to call for a paramedic to take them to hospital. In those situations there is likely an assumption on the part of the person who calls, that the paramedics who respond will provide them with the care they need, to at least be stabilized. If nothing else, it is fair to say there is an expectation that the paramedics will not do anything to make them worse. Unfortunately this is not always the case and sometimes serious mistakes are made.
Statistics from Toronto's Paramedic Service indicated that between the years of 2009 and 2014, there were more than 360 patient care complaints in the city. Those complaints prompted investigations that resulted in findings of paramedic misconduct in 125 cases. While a spokesperson for that organization indicated such incidents result in follow-up with the paramedic 100 per cent of the time, for a variety of reasons-including the fact that standardized regulations are not in place-what that follow-up consists of is unclear. There are no public hearings and information about who has been found guilty of misconduct is not made public.
Some people, including the president of the Ontario Paramedic Association, believe a professional college should be created to address the checks and balances that are currently missing. This course of action could be beneficial to all involved. In addition to providing the public information regarding who has been disciplined and why, it would also provide paramedics a route for appealing decisions they believe are unjust.
Answers to issues like this are not always easy. However, most would likely agree that anything that can be done to reduce the number of medical mistakes that occur is worth pursuing.
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