Ambulance transfer of entubated patient is an emergency resulting in immunity
Alvin Provot needed to be transferred to a different facility because the ICU where he was placed on a ventilator did not have services for chronically ventilated patients. In preparing for the transfer, he was paralyzed and placed on mobile ventilating equipment. The ambulance attendants claimed that this equipment was functioning properly initially, however, 25 minutes into the transfer, Mr. Provot "coded" and the EMTs concluded he was not being properly ventilated. They did not attempt to resuscitate him manually. Instead he was transported to the nearest Emergency Room, where he was pronounced dead.
The family sued, claiming that the transfer was not an emergency and therefore, the ambulance attendants were responsible for negligently managing Provot's care. The insurer for the ambulance company claimed that the transport was emergent, in particular once the EMTs concluded that Provot was in extremis, and therefore the family could only hold the EMTs responsible if it proved "gross negligence". The lower court and the Court of Appeals both concluded that regardless of whether the intital transport decision was emergent, by the time Mr. Provot began to demonstrate life-threatening symptoms, the EMTs were providing emergency care and held only to the "Good Samaritan" standard: they would be held accountable only if they caused the death by gross negligence or wilfull and wanton misconduct. Even Plaintiff's medical experts did not consider the EMTs conduct "reckless".