Professional prehospital clinicians’ experiences of ethical challenges associated with the collaboration with organised voluntary first responders: a qualitative study

Oliver Beierholm Sørensen, Louise Milling, Eva Laerkner, Søren Mikkelsen*, Henriette Bruun

*Kontaktforfatter

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Abstract

Background: Volunteer First Responders are used worldwide. In the Region of Southern Denmark, two types of programs have been established. One of these programs consists of voluntary responders without any requirements of education or training who are summoned to prehospital cardiac arrests. The other type of program is established primarily in the rural areas of the region and consists of volunteers with some mandatory education in first aid. These volunteers are summoned to all urgent cases along with the ambulances. Cooperation between professional healthcare workers and nonprofessionals summoned through official channels may be challenging. This study aimed to explore prehospital clinicians’ experiences of ethical challenges in cooperation with volunteer first responders. Methods: We conducted 16 semi-structured interviews at four different ambulance stations in the Region of Southern Denmark. Five emergency physicians and 11 emergency medical technicians/paramedics were interviewed. The interviews were transcribed, and the data were analysed using systematic text condensation. Results: The study's 16 interviews resulted in the identification of some specific categories that challenged the cooperation between the two parties. We identified three main categories: 1. Beneficence, the act of doing good, 2. The risk of harming patients’ autonomy 3. Non-maleficence, which is the obligation not to inflict harm on others. Conclusion: This study provides an in-depth insight into the ethical challenges between prehospital clinicians and voluntary first responders from the perspective of the prehospital clinicians. Both programs are considered to have value but only when treating patients with cardiac arrest. Our study highlights potential areas of improvement in the two Danish voluntary programs in their current form.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer79
TidsskriftScandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine
Vol/bind31
Antal sider11
ISSN1757-7241
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 14. nov. 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The presence of VFRs could make an already difficult situation even more stressful for prehospital clinicians []. This was supported by our study of prehospital clinicians. Ethical challenges in the prehospital emergency setting are not only related to the VFRs. Previous studies have identified other themes regarding situations where EMS experiences challenges and conflicts concerning ethical considerations such as caring for patients, the professional role and self-identity, and external collaboration [, , ].

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