In Ft. Worth, MedStar Treated My Aunt the Way I Would Treat a Family Member

I got a phone call from my aunt who lives in Ft. Worth about a month ago.  She had fallen and injured her shoulder, and was in a tremendous amount of pain after.  She told me how wonderful the paramedics from MedStar who took her to the hospital were.  They explained what they were doing, started an IV, and gave her pain medication before moving her to the backboard.

“The paramedics’ compassion and care are something I will always be grateful for,”  she told me, and said that she could not have imagined being moved before receiving pain medication.  While we EMS people would consider this a minor injury, it is a major one for her.  She continues to go to physical therapy and still has numbness in her hand.

I told her how lucky she was to get the EMS response that she did, and how pain medication before movement doesn’t happen everywhere.  Last year I wrote about how pain management and tiered response are not compatible, and her fall would have been a BLS call in tiered systems.

Even when paramedics are sent, there are lots of excuses to not give someone pain medication.  It takes extra work.  A paramedic could not let their EMT partner tech the call.  More time would be spent on scene, and a sexier shooting or cardiac arrest may be assigned to another unit.  While we have to give albuterol to someone having an asthma attack, we don’t have to give fentanyl to anyone.  Administering narcotics may mean more paperwork and more red tape to restock.   This may come after not having time to eat all day and getting out late.  And it’s not like the extra effort affects anyone’s paycheck, or that anyone besides the patient is likely to notice.

To the anonymous MedStar EMT and paramedic who took great care of my aunt that day, thank you.  You treated a stranger the same way I would treat a loved one.  I know you worked a little harder and spent a little more time with her than you had to., and we are both grateful for that.


  1. Willum Lackey says:

    I am a paramedic at MedStar, and it’s a new era, a new generation of practicing, at least in Fort Worth, and MedStar, where innovative protocols are coupling with a very patient advocating attitude. I’m proud a random crew did the right thing, but am not at all surprised. If she wishes, your aunt could call the MedStar office, and find out who the responding crew was, as internal recognition is possible, through this kind of positive feedback.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to commend our brothers and sisters!

    • emspatientperspective says:

      Thanks for the comment Willum. I’ve already given her information to Matt Zavadsky to let the crew know how appreciative she is. I also told my Aunt that MedStar gets publicity for a lot of innovative things. I’m glad that your service walks its patient-focused talk.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I am glad your Aunt got the care she received.

    The logistical barriers to secure narcotics are also a barrier to using narcotics when they are indicated. I am not sure how significant or how to overcome but it is worthy of consideration.

    • emspatientperspective says:

      Thanks Greg. I have no idea what MedStar’s policy for narcs is, but I have experienced these issues at different places I have worked. Brandon Oto wrote about decision making fatigue last year in EMS World, which I believe is a huge barrier to pain management. I wish more services would make it easy to do the right thing.

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