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EMS, Patient Care

Medical/Legal Advice, Google Style

From time to time someone wanders into Happy Medic Headquarters from the google machine.  Most commonly it is because I still rank high when searching Strippers and Cocaine, but every now and then I see a jump in visits and look into what folks are searching for.

Most recently this gem was typed into the search bar at the google:

“can police force you into ambulance if your intoxicated”


We’ll skip the grammatical issue and get right to the point.  Yes, Sparky, they can.

So can I for that matter.

If you are in Police custody they can indeed insist that you be evaluated by a physician.  If you are intoxicated, however, you can’t often refuse said evaluation.

Intoxication has many, many levels.  To avoid being “forced” into an ambulance you need to convince me that you can receive and understand information regarding your condition, make an informed decision regarding continued assessment and care, then comprehend the refusal document I need you to sign in order for me to go away.

If, based on my assessment, you are unable to do those things, I can’t in good faith just leave you where you are.  I must make a decision that you without the alcohol would agree to.

Most often being “forced” into an ambulance when intoxicated is a grey area where the PD wants you gone but doesn’t have enough to arrest you.  This is referred to as the “Code 3 PD eval, possible diabetic.”

PD will activate EMS in the hopes that you are too far gone to qualify for a refusal and their problem will be solved.

That being said, watch out for the “Goto the hospital or goto jail!” too often shouted by nearby Police.

No, a Police Officer can not threaten you with jail if you don’t go to the hospital any more than they can do so if you refuse to go away.  If they have the reason to arrest you, you’re getting arrested.  Going to the hospital does not release them from enforcing the law.

However, if you are too intoxicated to make decisions for yourself a hospital can’t help you much.  They’ll give you a once over, then let you sleep it off in the corner covered in your own vomit.  The Police holding cell is similar but is far, far cheaper in the long run.

So, can police force you into an ambulance?  Not really, unless you’re under arrest, then they can force you to do just about anything.  Otherwise maybe just shut up, listen to your options, and answer my questions.


Oh, and maybe a few less drinks next time.

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