Not an easy answer surely but there are a couple of thoughts I’ve had on this. First off I believe while healthcare is a job like any other, it is still noble by the virtue of the services provided. Our society grants fairly high social status to physicians, nurses, and allied health providers not necessarily because of education obtained but because of the value our society places on healthcare. This weight of expectation placed on health care providers means that this ‘job’ has powerful outcomes and consequences. The cost of a mistake, indifference, or malicious intent in this setting can cause branching generational damage. This may sound like hyperbole but I have witnessed it. This is not necessarily the case in general service jobs, the food industry, manufacturing etc. While all individuals have a right to a livable wage and employment, not all individuals have the right to work in health care. I truly believe that it is a privilege to be invited to assist in the care of someone’s health. That privilege should not be a heavily protected right and (in my opinion) should be more easily revoked.

As far as consequences there needs to be lower thresholds for heavy or permanent suspension of a license. For example a couple of years ago (this is now public information) there was an individual in this province who contacted EMS. They were picked up and told to walk to the ambulance, once inside the ambulance they lost consciousness and stopped breathing. Both paramedics went to feel for a pulse, the driving paramedic said they couldn’t feel a pulse, the attending paramedic said they could and to begin transport as normal. The EMS crew proceeded alpha (no lights and sirens) to the nearest hospital where they brought in a dead person. This patient had been in cardiac arrest for the entire transport and was pronounced dead at the hospital. This individual was suspected of a narcotic overdose causing death, and easily treatable pathology by paramedics at the most basic of levels.

This paramedic lied, lied about what they felt because he didn’t want to be wrong. That lie killed this patient. What was the paramedic’s punishment? They has to take a reentry program and practicum. How rigorous is that? 6 weeks of web based programing, 4 weekends of classroom instruction, and 123 hours of practicum (~10 shifts). I may sound callous but I think anything less than permanently revoking their license is absurd. I am sorry the profession didn’t work out but your ineptitude and negligence cost someone their life. That was someones sibling, parent, grandparents, best friend, spouse etc., that loss is profound. This is once again not isolated, I only spent 6 years in this job and yet countless examples of negligence, sexual assault, and patient harm that has gone unreported, ignored, or treated flippantly.

The last part I want to mention but I won’t expand upon right now is the fact that health professionals are poorly supported in general (this includes Saskatchewan). Hours are long, fatigue is the norm, emotions are frayed, and your own health is the price to pay. I don’t like the idea of setting people up to fail. That being said I can only speak to EMS but the system needs an overhaul top to bottom. I will not pretend to sit from an ivory tower and tell the sleep-deprived, emotionally distraught, hungry, and injured health care provider they should have done better and then revoke their ability to make a living. Our institutions have just as much to do (if not more) with these many of these cases as the individuals do themselves.

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