A law that takes effect Friday will allow emergency medical workers to draw blood from drivers who crash and are merely suspected of using drugs or alcohol. Currently, only physicians, registered nurses, qualified technicians, chemists and phlebotomists can take blood from drivers suspected of operating vehicles while under the influence.
Adding emergency medical workers would allow samples to be drawn sooner, but that raises several serious questions. Can drivers be forced to give a sample? Who will train EMS workers to use the different police collection kits? What is the chain of command when dealing with evidence? Would this interfere with patient care? Paramedics start IVs to help patients in need. Drawing two vials of blood from that catheter risks blowing the patient's vein and having to put in a second IV. The laws adoption allows fire departments to opt out of participating, and there are no final rules guiding EMS agencies.
Dayton, Ohio DUI attorney Charles Rowland asks, "Are we so zealous to arrest and prosecute potential offenders, that we risk patient care and put lives at risk? Will the people who are charged with patient care share the zeal for prosecution to an extent that patients may die or undergo unnecessary procedures?"
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