‘I Do Not Have the Money to Pay for This!’

Anthony Hecht at the Portland Mercury relays a quick story he observed last night. A man—possibly mentally ill; the police were involved—was being strapped to a gurney and taken to the hospital “for his own safety.” Hecht reports the man “really became terrified and kind of lost it,” yelling repeatedly, “I do not have the money to pay for this.”

The right to refuse medical treatment is universally recognized,” however: you must be deemed conscious and competent. A dive medic—handle, “divemedic”—from a 2008 forum on ExpertLaw (lol) explains it really well: “There are certain circumstances where you can be treated and transported against your will. Alcohol intoxication, head trauma, and certain other conditions allow the EMT or Paramedic to rule that you are not competent to understand the medical consequences of refusing medical care, and therefore the law not only allows the EMT to treat you against your will, but requires him to do so. In such a case, you would be responsible for the bill.”


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