We’re standing in the triage room of the county hospital and I’m giving a report to the nurse so she can assign us the proper room. The officer catches up to us and is working on his report as Scottie is taking some vitals on Anika. I catch the officer’s eye and do the head twitch to ask him to come over next to me. Still talking to the nurse I raise my voice just a little so the officer can overhear my report. “She was also treated for similar injuries at this facility two weeks ago; no ambulance that time and no police involvement.” The officer understands the game and scribbles in his notebook. He’ll question her about it later when he’s taking her statement.
Strictly speaking, that’s not a breach of patient confidentiality. If I know of a crime I have to report it yet everyone in the medical community is so touchy on the subject it’s best to use discretion. Above all else I am an advocate for my patients and will do what is necessary to make sure they get the help they need, be it medical, emotional, or involving law enforcement. Right now Anika is a minor who doesn’t have a single advocate.
We get Anika settled into a room and the officer sits next to her doing some paperwork. I give a quick report to the nurse that’s going to take over and start to walk back to the rig.
Turning the corner towards the exit I see Sasha. As she sees me she does a little dance in the hallway and does a fast high heel shuffle to give me a hug. Sasha is a bundle of flirtatious energy in an otherwise drab sea of scrubs. She’s always dressed like she’s headed to the club for drinks and has a smile for everyone. Her job is to handle the HIV screening for the county hospital and as such she has access to all of the records for the ED and offers screening for at risk patients.
“Hey pretty lady, how you doing today?”
“I’m doing fabulous! It’s good to see you. Are being safe out there?” Sasha always worries about us in EMS. She knows the hood and the people who live there by way of her work and always checks to make sure we are being safe.
“You know I’m always safe, I gotta come back to visit you.” We have an ongoing flirtation that’s a fun distraction from the realities of our respective jobs. “Hey, you want to do me a favor and talk some sense into a girl who needs a little help right now?”
“Sure, what you got?”
I explain whats going on with Anika and how she not only needs the HIV screening she needs someone to talk to that she can identify with. Sasha is the perfect person to set her straight on what she needs to do. Sasha says she’ll go talk to Anika and also try to get her screened. As she starts to walk off, she asks me a question that shakes me to the core.
“Is the boyfriend pimp’n her on the streets? That’s what they do. Especially a foster kid – she’s an easy target.” Damn! I actually didn’t put that together.
Sasha has more street smarts than I do – she deals with this sort of thing all the time. And she’s right – that’s exactly what this was all about. This was a pimp beat down and I missed it. I’m relieved that I bumped into Sasha, knowing that she’ll know what to say to Anika and be able to get her set up with some domestic violence services for women.
I go back outside the ED to the rig and put the final touches on my paperwork before transmitting an electronic copy to the county and receiving hospital. Scottie is still engrossed in the word game on his iPhone. The wipers are still on delay, wiping away the rain every few seconds as if someone is wiping away the tears that are shed in the city on a daily basis. I transmit my patient care report (PCR) on the laptop and pick up the mic.
“Medic-40, we’re available, where would you like us…?”