1-21. CONSENT IS NOT REQUIRED IN SOME EMERGENCIES
a. Emergency Treatment. Two conditions must be met in order to be able to
treat an emergency patient without consent: 1) it must be a real emergency, and 2) it
must be an emergency in which consent cannot be obtained.
b. Real Emergency. The patient's condition must be such that it requires
immediate treatment, either to preserve life or prevent serious impairment.
c. Consent Unobtainable. It must be a situation in which it is impossible to
obtain consent of any kind, either the patient's or someone else's. This means that the
patient is mentally or physically unable to provide consent and there is no one available
to provide authorized consent on the patient's behalf, such as a parent for a child.
d Both Conditions Met. If both of these conditions are met, then treatment
may be provided, without consent and without risk of liability for battery. But, if one of
the two conditions is not met (it is possible to obtain consent or it is not a real
emergency), then the health care providers are limited in what they can legally do for
the patient. If, for example, the patient has a wound, all that can be done is to clean it
until consent is obtained.
1-22. CONSENT NOT REQUIRED FOR TESTS UNDER POLICE ORDER
Tests carried out under police direction for use as evidence in prosecuting
suspected criminals do not require patient consent. Tests that the police might request
include: breath analysis, urine analysis, blood samples, stomach pumping, and
occasionally x-rays to detect swallowed contraband, such as diamonds or drugs. (The
authority for tests used in ongoing investigations is based on constitutionally protected
Fourth Amendment rights of probable-cause search.)