Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Sloppy sedation

I often hate The Economist, I am not going to lie. I hate reading their Zionist opinions, and I hate that they are often snide and condescending in their tone to certain topics. However, I think The Economist still does a lot of incredible analysis. I will see how I feel about a new subscription when this one ends.

I was fascinated by this piece of news in the New York Times: "Criminal Trial of Paramedics Opens in the Death of Elijah McClain." To summarize, a rare case is being brought against the two paramedics who responded to the police assault of Elijah McClain. Only 1 of 3 officers in the trial were found guilty, by the way. The officer who actually held the chokehold was acquitted. Also, they were fire department paramedics. A "non-transporting ALS first responder unit."

According to the indictment, Mr. McClain was in distress, but the paramedics did not speak to him, touch him or check his vital signs before injecting him with the sedative ketamine. He died several days later.

There are some interesting wrinkles in the case. A former district attorney said the prosecution would have to prove that the paramedics acted "so outside the standard of care" and that they "consciously disregarded a known risk." A professor said that the defense might say that the paramedics were simply following the instructions of the police, and that that is a normal expectation in situations like these. 

The article points out two challenging things to explain are the high dose of ketamine and why the paramedics did not conduct a medical assessment. I did some extra research on this situation. This 2021 article from EMS1 explains the legal implications. I guess I did not realize there would be a dedicated newspaper for first responders.

The indictment alleges that the two defendant paramedics watched the police officers forcibly push Mr. McClain to the ground, and that one paramedic told the police, “we’ll just leave him there until the ambulance gets here and we’ll just put him down on the gurney.” After about two minutes on scene, the paramedics concluded that Mr. McClain was suffering from excited delirium. It is alleged that this determination was made by talking to the police officers and observing Mr. McClain for approximately one minute.

Excited delirium, another thing I literally just learned, is apparently an incredibly controversial term and reportedly repeatedly used to justify police brutality. From "A doctors group calls its ‘excited delirium’ paper outdated and withdraws its approval" (AP, October 2023):

The American College of Emergency Physicians in a statement called the paper outdated and said the term excited delirium should not be used by members who testify in civil or criminal cases. The group’s directors voted on the matter Thursday in Philadelphia.

I am sure there are some who will whine and say this is just the woke mob continuing its rampage, but I am inclined to believe doctors. 

Apparently, the paramedics estimated McClain to weigh 200lb. McClain is 5'6". Here is an undated photo of him. I guess he could have gained a ton of weight and become super fat but that seems unrealistic. They injected (?) him with 500mg of ketamine. The prosecution alleges the proper dose at 200lb would have been 453mg. At his actual weight of 143lb, the proper dosage would be 325mg. It seems like a poor choice to misdose someone. Misdosing can kill someone. 

I don't know if the paramedics are guilty, obviously. At the very least to me, they do seem sloppy. The EMS1 analysis is very pro-paramedic, if you could define sides. Is it illegal to be lazy? It seems unclear. Paramedics are given very heightened responsibility, and are often tasked with doing things out of an ambulance that if done in an ER, would require physician supervision. It seems like administering ketamine might be one of those heightened responsibilities.