Organizational Culture in EMS White Paper

Ethical Issues in EMS

While one might not think so, there are ethical issues galore when it comes to the emergency medical services (EMS) sphere. Indeed, there is a valid question when it comes to the obligations that arise during the job and what must or should be done when those obligations conflict. Given that eventuality, there can and should be an analysis of what to do when such a situation arises and how to properly react and make the right decision. Whatever decision is made, there has to be an ensuring that the needs of the patients as well as the organizations in question are being properly balanced and prioritized. While the aforementioned balancing act can be difficult to pull off, it is something that any proper practitioner in the field must strive to accomplish.


Many EMS personnel and managers are prone to rely on spur-of-the-moment judgement and reason when it comes to the making of decisions. However, there is a lot to be said of having “standard practices” and go-to protocols in place when certain situations arise. It prevents the happenstance of not being sure what to do and why and can only help an EMS professional or manager that is under pressure while also unsure of which decision to make and for what reasons. It is a way to inoculate the EMS professional from having to worry about making the wrong choice as they simply need to follow the protocol. Indeed, while there might be some situations where this would be less than wise and ethical if the prescribed protocol does not make rational or ethical sense. However, this is not usually the case and the proper protocols are what should be followed. Even so, the EMS professionals and managers in the field need to know what those protocols are and to what situations they can and do apply as they come up. Having a defined and definite set of rules when it comes to things like termination of resuscitation, whether and when sirens or lights should be used and so forth are all things where the rules are commonly defined in advance and should be followed. This does not mean that the rules and protocols will not change. However, those changes will be handled by the proper parties and with the right amount of due diligence (Becker, Aswegan, Bradley & Schoenwetter, 2013).

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