Posted by: medicblog999 | August 1, 2009

A Moral DillIema – The Conclusion

door-with-deadbolt-was-kicked-inSo the question I posed earlier in the week – “Would you get the police to force entry or would you walk away” got the type of responses that I would have imagined, with 86% of those who voted, opting for trying to get the police to force entry to the house.

What actually happened is a bit of an anti-climax, but wasn’t intended to be the focus of the story anyway. It was more about the choices made by those on the scene.

Whilst on scene the police contacted their supervision who agreed to not force entry as the ‘patient’ hadn’t been missing for long enough and was known to them as a frequent caller and an alcoholic.

This bothered me greatly and after a few minutes stewing over it, I decided to let my concerns be known. I told the police officer that I was not happy to just walk away without checking the house first. The very fact that the patient was an alcoholic increased the likelihood of something bad happening to them on the other side of the door, if indeed she was actually in.

I could easily imagine Marjorie lying on the floor next to her bed with a fractured neck of femur, or maybe she was lying dead at the bottom of the stairs after taking a fall whilst drunk. Or maybe she was just asleep on the sofa, drunk!

Either way, I wasn’t willing to feel the responsibility of doing nothing!

To the police officers credit, he said that if I felt that strongly, he would still force entry (although I guess this was more to protect himself in case something bad had happened to Marjorie, and he hadnt gained entry to the house even though the paramedic wanted him to!)

Just as he was about to get the enforcer out to break in, the other next door neighbour made an appearance and stated that she had seen Marjorie leave the house 3 hours before with a suitcase. With this new information we all agreed that we could leave the house intact and move on to the next emergency.

As I said, the conclusion to the story wasn’t important, the decisions and thought processes that got us to our decisions was though.

I think I will always want to ‘have a look see’ in these cases, unless there is good information to suggest that the patient has come to no harm.

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