Monday 15 July 2013


Nearly every profession has some kind of protocol.  It may be a checklist that workers go through once a day (turn on the lights, set the temperature, turn on the machines, unlock the doors, etc), or it may be a list of rules they have to follow.  Protocols are designed to prevent us from forgetting things and making sure that everything that needs to get done actually gets done.  But the downside is that they also prevent us from having to think.  Some people may believe that not needing to use their brains helps to take pressure off and is therefore a good thing.

I don't.

I was walking through the intensive care unit today after seeing my patients there, and I happened to notice a man who looked to be in very bad shape a few beds down.  In the 0.4 seconds it took me to glance at him, I was able to see that he was comatose, intubated on a ventilator, had a cervical immobilisation collar on, and had an intracranial pressure monitor in his brain.  As you can imagine, one must be severely injured to require such equipment.

I also happened to notice that he had three armed police officers in his room.  Three.  When someone is under protective custody (ie someone who has been attacked), there are generally one or two officers guarding the room from outside.  Only people who are under arrest (READ: bad guys) have the officers in the room with them.  And only REALLY bad guys need three of them.

After surveying the scene, I approached the nurse and asked the obvious question - is this guy who is in a coma, unable to breath on his own, probably close to death, really a flight risk?  The nurse started laughing, and I heard his laughing continue and intensify as I walked out of the unit shaking my head.

I imagine that this particular police department has a protocol that "ALL REALLY BAD GUYS MUST BE GUARDED BY THREE ARMED OFFICERS TO PREVENT FLIGHT".  And I imagine that in most cases, this is a good thing.  But here it makes no sense whatsoever.

I would welcome any police officers' or other public servants' comments.  Please tell me I'm wrong.


  1. That's quite a waste of money! I wouldn't want to be paying for that with my taxes, and I'm sure neither do the citizens of DocBastardLand, wherever that may be.

    1. Oh, and what would cause someone to need three guards even not in a coma? How many guards if this dude were awake? Is this a serial killer or the kind of dude who inserts a spoon into his abdomen because the voices told him to? Or both?

  2. Reaaally realy bad guys in really bad shape being rescued by other bad guys? Thus having 3 officiers that prevent him from having friends picking him up after neutralizing the officier?
    But unless he's a druglord or a godfather that seems a bit intense.

  3. "Rescuing" him when he needs a machine to breathe does not seem like a very helpful move to me, even if he is a drug baron!

    He can only fly as far as the extension cord will stretch no matter who is there to help him!

    Sadly, personal judegment allows for errors and errors result in law suits, therefore all judgement must be removed from all occupations and delegated to faceless committees who write protocols. So long as the protocols are "safe" it doesn't matter how inefficient they are.

  4. May I be the voice of reason and logic here? Perhaps the officers are there to prevent the murder of someone to be locked in jail? After all, if he goes to court, he might spill the names of important drug lords who could then be arrested.

    After all, it'd be a shame to have to get all of that blood out of the sheets.

    1. If he was being protected then the officers would be outside the door. As DocBastard said guards on protection detail wait outside while people being watched have the guards in the same room as them. Its likely that the guards are watching him because if he recovered and somehow escaped or was broken out and then went on to commit a crime for example murder then the state which he has been hospitalized has opened itself up to a lawsuit because a man who should have been under watch by law enforcement was not and as a result escaped and committed the crime in question. It may be stupid but it's necessary to protect themself

    2. Good point. I should stop commenting when I'm tired. Night shift does that to people.

  5. More then likely to prevent someone from the outside finishing the job.

    And I can say this, the cops or co's in the room were hating every minute of they're jobs that night.

  6. I know this is an old, old post, and you may never see this comment...

    but keep in mind the police department is, by their protocols, not competent to make the decision whether the person's medical condition prevents them being a flight risk or not. that's YOUR jurisdiction.

  7. Forget about drug lord, someone needing this level of protection, either from himself or from others would be more likely involved in sex trafficking...


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