Last fall I took a friend who I take care of to emergency at Mills Memorial Hospital with a health concern I was unable to resolve.
My friend is a 61 year-old First Nations elder with physical disabilities. He is mentally competent.
The ER doctor ordered an x-ray and blood work. The x-ray went okay; the blood work did not.
The lab tech got one vial blood with difficulty and was having difficulty getting more. Here arises the problem.
Because the tech was digging and digging away, my friend said to quit.
I told the tech my friend had had enough and was saying no more.
I said a patient has six rights, but there is a seventh – the right to say no and refuse care. He was saying no and exercising that right.
I repeated this statement twice more to the registered nurse on duty, once when she was doing his vitals and once when she was sitting behind the desk.
Shortly after that I was asked to leave for a half an hour – go get some coffee the ER doctor said.
While I was gone the ER doctor and the registered nurse held my friend down and had the lab tech get his blood. During this process he continued to say no.
Two illegal acts are apparent here – the denial of his right to refuse care and physical abuse by physically restraining him to get their blood work.
Two key principle words making up the foundation of our health care system are at play here. They are informed consent.
The staff and physician did not inform my friend what they were doing and why and he certainly did not give his consent.
The ER doctor is foreign-trained. She may have been able to do what she wanted to do in her home country but this is Canada and all persons have the same rights.