Canadians deserve the very best in emergency care . Let's work to restore their confidence in the emergency health care system.

Emergency Advocacy: Lift the Cone of Silence

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I was struck by a recent National Post article on the suspension of two Toronto paramedics who publically criticized senior EMS management.

This is not foreign in the emergency medicine world.

I remember only too well the 2004 firing of an emergency department director in Saskatoon for his declaration that “we have not had children die but I know that there are patients who our ER (emergency room) physicians feel have been permanently disabled and died due to the critical understaffing at RUH ER”

I also remember the 2009 incident in Halifax, Nova Scotia in which an emergency physician was “laterally promoted” from his job as an ED director for calling a “Code Orange”, a disaster response to a dangerous level of crowding in his urban ED.

The message is clear. Speak out and pay a severe price for advocating on behalf of public safety.

Indeed, in many hospitals credentialling now includes a prohibition from publically criticizing a hospital board or administration.

We are being muzzled!

However, it is part of our longstanding tradition in medicine to advocate on behalf of our patients.

Indeed the need to advocate for our patients is codified in the Physician’s Charter of 2002; the new Hippocratic Oath for the modern physician (and health care worker)

In it we are encouraged (and morally obliged) to speak out for an equitable access to health care resources.

It may place us in an uncomfortable position but at the end of the day we have a moral obligation to speak out on inequities in the health care system.

We adhere to a higher calling. We must continue to bravely speak out when are patients are threatened by misguided public health policy.

Good for the two paramedics. They deserve our collective support.

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