MI: EMT Not Required to Report Abuse Suspicions

Jeff Gorman of Courthouse News reports:

An emergency medical technician was not required to report his suspicions that a co-worker had sexually molested a suicidal teenage girl in the back of their ambulance, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled.

Timothy O’Connell was the driver, and Matt DiFillippo was the EMT in the back.

O’Connell did report the suspicions to his supervisor, but the victim’s father alleged that O’Connell was required to make a report according to the state’s child protection law.


“We wish to emphasize that the absence of a statutory duty … to report this wrongdoing to child protective services does not impact the propriety or alleviate the moral obligation of contacting law enforcement to seek an investigation of such reprehensible criminal conduct,” Judge Michael Talbot wrote

The court’s opinion can be found here (pdf).

Moral obligation? I think the folks in Michigan need to get real. Unless they mandate EMT’s as reporters, any EMT considering making such a report would almost certainly consider whether they might have any liability for reporting if the report turned out to be unfounded. Not only could they be sued for libel or slander, but they could potentially be sued for a privacy or HIPAA violation by the patient. I don’t know if such lawsuits could prevail, but if the state really wants them to report suspicions of abuse, cover them by providing them with the same immunity for reporting that mandated reporters get.

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