As of January 1st this year paramedics save lives at their own risk. They have to work intuitively, because the legal regulation as to what they are allowed to do expired.On 1 January 2016 the old regulation, which defined what a paramedic who saves the life of a patient can do on their own and which activities are only to be performed by a doctor, expired.
We work for the benefit of the patient at the moment, we do not have a legal basis that would regulate our responsibilities – admits Michał Górny, a paramedic from Warsaw.
The Ministry sees no problem
Lack of the document causes that every time we need to think twice about what action we can perform, whether that activity falls within the scope of our competence and whether we were definitely trained in this direction – says Maciej Solski, director of the Rescue Centre in Wroclaw.
The old regulation precisely determined the treatment and what drugs a paramedic was allowed to administer to a patient. There is no new one. There is a project, but it got stuck at the ministry, and the paramedics must work in the dark.
The Ministry does not see the problem and says that while there are no new regulations, everything is as it used to be. “During the transitional period emergency medical services – due to their role in protecting the health and life of Polish citizens – carry out their tasks as before,” it says in a ministry statement.
The problem is that the regulations which applied so far lost their force of law two and a half months ago. Paramedics asked – which actions are they allowed to perform – and got this answer: “The scope of their activities will result from the knowledge and skills acquired during the training.”
This concise statement of the Ministry did not put the paramedics at ease because the general opinion is not the same as specific provisions.
For us it is not a legal basis, because there were cases when the opinions of the ministries were not considered in cases of lawsuits – says Michał Górny.
Every day paramedics make dozens of decisions that determine human life. They are well-educated in that area, but they are no doctors. The law that regulates the list of drugs that can be administered to a patient, not only helps them at work, but also secures them.
What when saving someone’s life or health, there will be side effects after administration of a pharmacological substance? We do not know, we do not have a legal basis that could defend us in such a situation – emphasises Michał Górny.
The Ministry of Health has not answered the question of whether such fears of the paramedics are justified or not.