Monday 16 January 2012

Human Rights? Sorry, my bad......

"42 Male, ? Diabetic problems, ? Intoxicated, Police on scene"

In my experience, a ? is usually a fact when alcohol is concerned. This patient was going to be intoxicated. Regarding the diabetic problems I assumed the police had requested us because the patient was a) Diabetic b) They wanted to make sure he was medically fit enough to be arrested. Sceptical, yes, but I was correct on both counts. We drove down the alley way and were met at the bottom of the steel staircase which led to the flats by one of the coppers. He briefly told us the guy was drunk, under arrest but was a diabetic and was screaming stuff about insulin. And we could hear the shouting from the bottom of the 30 or so steps. Joy! We made our way up the stairs and entered the room. There were 7 cops in there and our patient, handcuffed, writhing around on the floor.

"Careful, he's a spitter"

Foul mouthed expletives were free flowing from him, most of which were racist. He himself was of Iraqi origin but that didn't stop the racial slurs towards the Black, White, Asian and Sikh officers standing around him. They were all amazingly calm and professional and were just leaving him to it. A few quick checks and it became clear, medically he was fine. Unfortunately he then did a pseudo fit followed by feigned unconsciousness. Credit where credit due it was a great effort on both counts. To the untrained eye they were convincing. Sadly for us, due to the duration he kept the act up for the police wanted him taking to hospital. They arranged removal to the ambulance which was a joy to watch. 6 cops carrying a large man, pretending to be unconscious down a large metal flight of stairs in the dark. Eventually he was on our taxi and strapped to the bed. Once I was aboard he began hitting himself in the face with his handcuffs making his mouth and gums bleed.  We headed off to the nearest hospital. I'd like to add at this point it was my least favourite hospital. In fact, I detested it.

The patient appeared to have calmed down and I began asking him the basic question need for my paperwork. I asked him if he was registered with a GP. He starred at me blankly and then without warning spat a full mouthful of blood into face. The police pounced on him covering his face with a swine flu mask.  I cut open a bag of saline fluid and began flushing my eye. We arrived at hospital and I went straight to the sink. I ran the tap over my face, cleaned it with soap but I had been exposed. What to? No idea. He wasn't known to the hospital and wouldn't answer any questions about his health. Because he was under arrest he was obliged to provide a blood sample. I provided one and after a lengthy discussion with the consultant of A & E we decided to hold off on prophylactics until the following day pending blood test result. The risk of intra-ocular contamination is very low but the risk is there all the same. The police left with the patient a few hours later and I went back to work. The rest of the shift passed without incident.

The next afternoon I phoned and phoned and phoned the hospital. No answer. That evening I made the 40 mile journey from where I lived back to the A & E to get the results. I waited and waited and waited. I sat there for 4 hours constantly badgering the staff to find out the delay. A sheepish looking Dr eventually came over.

"I'm afraid both blood samples have been lost"

My opinion of the hospital was clearly justified. They had lost the lot. His sample for testing and my serum save. So I said I wanted to go on prophylactics to be safe.

"I'm afraid it's too late to start them now"

Of course it is. I've been here for 6 hours and have been ringing for 6 before that. No wonder it's too late. I said I wanted to get another sample from him to find out what he did or didn't have.

"I'm afraid it's against his human rights to request another blood sample. He's been discharged and is no longer a patient"

Of course it is. Must protect his rights mustn't we. Don't worry about mine. I now have to be jabbed and prodded to 12 months until I can get an all clear. I decided to contact the police and request a blood sample from them. Eventually I got through to one of the arresting officers.

"I'm afraid he was released without charge this morning once he had sobered up, he isn't obliged to provide another sample. We can ask him but if he says no there is nothing we can do"

Guess what? He said no. I asked about pressing charges for assault. I got an all to familiar response when asking about spitters.

"It probably wouldn't go anywhere as there is no physical injury"

Erm, possible blood contamination?!?! It was like talking to a brick wall. No one wanted to know. Too much time had passed and the animal was protected by his human rights bubble. When will assaults on staff be taken seriously? So what if there is a lot of paperwork involved. We have rights too. Surely we have a right to know if we have been infected? Apparently not.

Compensation: £0
Days sick: 0
Apology from patient: Pending....
Apology from hospital: Pending....

By the way, I got the all clear over a year ago but it still irks me. My employer was extremely supportive and provided everything that they could. It's a shame the hospital and police couldn't provide the same.


  1. I would've gone to the press! It's amazing what happens when public knowledge if fuck up are made!

  2. That's terrible. Screw his human rights, what about yours! He should have lost his the moment he assaulted you! Glad you're ok though, albeit rightly pissed off

  3. Its still an assault, whether you were injured or not. What about the year of testing you had to go through, what about psychological injury, enough numpties successfully sue anyone and everyone for alleged psychological damages. What about the so called zero tolerance policy the NHS is always banging on about? Rant over, but whichever way you cut it they let you down. As for the A&E they should be ashamed, at the very least you look after your own, and make damn sure those samples are rushed through. I do hope you deliver them a steady stream of pond life whenever you are unfortunate enough to find yourself with them to transport! But most of all I'm glad you came out of it OK!

  4. Just one more thing you didn't sign up for

  5. This is a grey area and should be made completely transparent. Anyone committing violence should be charged. Spitting in someones face is a serious crime due to the horrific effects that later could happen and you had lots of witnesses. You should have pressed charges. Iknow it's too late after the fact but keep in mind for the future. There definitly should be a change in the law in this respect.

    Eric Burrows

  6. I know how you feel! I once had a mug of coffee thrown straight in my face with two police officers stood there, all they did was ask the pt not to do it again!
    Coffee all my face, my white shirt, my jkt, trousers and all over the monitor! Not impressed!! Then they had the cheek to ask us if we'd drop the pt off at a local hotel as his family didn't want him in there house drunk!

  7. If that happened in my county, he could spend up to 8 years in federal prison and if you ended up with whatever disease he had, then it is automatically upgraded to attempted man slaughter or murder ( I can't remember which). After all, if you contract hepatitis or HIV from him, then what he has given you is essentially a death sentence. You also start a round of disgusting pills that make you sick for months while you wait for all the testing to be finished. I can't believe the police were so cavalier about what he did.


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