Ethical dilemmas comprise an important non-technical aspect of paramedicine but have not received significant research attention. This study explores the nature of paramedical ethics during the high-stakes referral of emergency ambulance patients, and relates findings to accepted concepts of professionalism.
Grounded Theory Methodology was used to analyse interview data from paramedics in Ontario, Canada, who had experience making field-referrals for patients suffering from ST elevation myocardial infarction and acute stroke.
Paramedics describe extensive use of an ethic of applied beneficence, and patient advocacy during calls on a borderline for inclusion in referrals to medical specialists.
The management of complex ethical dilemmas is often cited as an example of professionalism. Paramedics have developed a unique type of ethicality to address the complexities of emergency field-referrals that reflects their field of practice, and is consistent with the literature on professional level ethical practice.
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