There are enough traffic scofflaws already

Here’s something interesting that Tom the 12-lead expert posted: a cath lab nurse, Yvonne B. Singletary, wrote about the ticket she received for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign while en route to a cath lab activation.

The citing officer could have let her go, but then again, he’s the one who saw with his own eyes how her driving really was. As with anything like this, there’s always more to the story than what is told. There certainly are some merits to her position, but there are people out there who have raised other legitimate issues as well. The most important rule is one I learned long ago, one that usually escapes newer folks: first, you have to get there safely, in one piece.

  • To start, at exactly what speed did she go through this stop sign in question?
  • How many other traffic infractions – speeding is the first one that comes to mind – did she really commit during that same trip?
  • Why would we allow someone like her, in an unmarked car with no lights and sirens, to be exempt from traffic laws? Driving is already dangerous enough as it is while obeying all relevant traffic laws; go through a red light or two, speed a few mph more, and it certainly does not get any safer, for her or anyone else.
  • What’s the hospital’s position on this? What’s their liability if she wrecks?
  • Is the hospital going to have a policy in place telling cath lab staff (or similar staff) that they could go through red lights after looking both ways?
  • Most code 3 ambulance responses and transports are very carefully and conservatively conducted – for safety reasons and for patient care reasons. The first time your partner reaches up front and smacks you on the head is the last time you throw him or her around in the back.
  • Code 3 ambulance transports are only marginally quicker and should be very selectively used.
  • I think it would be incredibly ironic if I carefully drove a code 3 ambulance with a STEMI to the hospital only for someone like her to wreck her car (and possibly other cars) trying to meet us there.
  • Finally, all this time and effort she is putting into getting her way – exempting people like her from traffic citations – could and should be redirected towards getting people to eat less and exercise more to reduce cardiac events. I’ve suggested many times on this blog that the medical community as a whole absolutely sucks at patient education and illness and injury prevention. Instead of considering how to get the cath lab people to the cath lab, the real question should be how to get fewer people to need a cath lab in the first place. I think it would be unfair if her traffic ticket got more attention than the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

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