Jonathan in Houston wrote this comment underneath our post Pro Tip: Call an Ambulance After a Defensive Gun Use:
This is an important topic that almost nobody considers and which we should devote additional attention to here. As important as it is to seek medical attention for yourself, it’s also important to know what you’re getting yourself into . . .
An emergency scene can be more or less routine, but often it can be as chaotic as just about any depiction you’ve seen on T.V. or in the movies. People are coming and going, many are within earshot and eyesight, and privacy can be virtually nonexistent. It can be very difficult controlling yourself, your voice volume, especially your emotions, in the immediate aftermath. Many people instinctively unload on their first responders with a stream of consciousness account of what horror just happened. The mind just needs release as a first stage of processing the gravity and tragedy of whatever just transpired. Well.
You can invoke your rights to silence, to a lawyer and not consent to searches, but you’re still not really in control of yourself and your environs and you do still need to communicate with the EMTs. Things can slip out of your pockets. Your pants could be cut off of your body, revealing things that later constitute evidence. They’ll ask you questions to which you could well respond without thinking. All of this can be overheard and can drive the investigation. And don’t think that so-called doctor-patient confidentiality will protect you, either.
For starters, those laws vary widely by state and courts’ interpretations vary, as well. For some, like Nevada, doctor means exactly that: a doctor. An EMT isn’t a doctor, so no privilege attaches. For some, doctor means those acting under the direction of a doctor, too. Could include an EMT, but then again, not all EMTs, as some are independent and unaffiliated with a hospital or any specific doctor.
Post-DGU, how would you know the corporate and legal affiliations of the EMT? Other states, like New York, spread that privilege pretty widely and include first responders. (Maybe even nonprofessional first responders, such as bystanders providing first aid, but don’t quote me on that. I only have a sketchy source for that part.)
Some states specify that even if there is a doctor-patient privilege that extends to a nurse, paramedic, EMT, or other healthcare provider, who’s working under the direction of a doctor, that patient must actually receive treatment. What specific acts constitute receipt of treatment? Hmmm…..I don’t know. Sounds like a point for lawyers to argue over for a year or more, at your expense.
Regardless, such privilege, even where applicable, extends to information about your medical condition/problem and treatments. It doesn’t apply to you blurting out that you’re glad the mugger you just shot was a minority, because “their kind” have it coming. Not only is there no guarantee of confidentiality, but there’s a guarantee of NO confidentiality, actually, in certain cases. Medical personnel are typically required to notify police of drug-related emergencies and of gunshots, for example.
Every situation is different and it’s impossible to develop a standard plan, but you can be aware of these general principles to help protect yourself. Invoke your rights with the police, and just do the best you can providing information to the emergency medical personnel treating you, without divulging too much about the incident itself unrelated to your medical condition(s).