BackTable / VI / Podcast / Health Equity #5

Police Presence in Medical Spaces

with Dr. Jamal Jefferson

In this episode of our Health Equity Series, guest host Dr. Vishal Kumar interviews emergency medicine resident Dr. Jamal Jefferson about the presence of law enforcement in emergency rooms and challenges with patient privacy and trust in the healthcare system.

Police Presence in Medical Spaces with Dr. Jamal Jefferson on the BackTable VI Podcast)
Police Presence in Medical Spaces
00:00 / 01:04

BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2022, June 17). Ep. health-equity-05 – Police Presence in Medical Spaces [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com

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Podcast Contributors

Dr. Jamal Jefferson discusses Police Presence in Medical Spaces on the BackTable health-equity-05 Podcast

Dr. Jamal Jefferson

Dr. Jamal Jefferson is an emergency medicine resident with Alameda Health System in Oakland, California.

Dr. Vishal Kumar discusses Police Presence in Medical Spaces on the BackTable health-equity-05 Podcast

Dr. Vishal Kumar

Dr. Vishal Kumar is an interventional radiologist with UCSF in California.

Show Notes

In this episode, guest host Dr. Vishal Kumar interviews emergency medicine resident Dr. Jamal Jefferson about the presence of law enforcement in emergency rooms and its effects on patient privacy and trust in the healthcare system.

Dr. Jefferson explains the role that the emergency department plays in his community. He outlines its medical role, as well as its extension into “social emergency medicine.” This term refers to the fact that the ED can be an important access point to services that could improve social determinants of health. Overall the ED often sees community members in their most vulnerable states, and it has the opportunity to track trends in community needs.

Next, the doctors discuss how healthcare providers can be unknowingly complicit in further injustices to their patients. Dr. Jefferson urges physicians to think about the ramifications of their actions. For example, using a 5150 code to place a patient on psychiatric hold could affect court decisions and child custody outcomes in the future. Furthermore, when patient belongings are being itemized in a public space such as the ED, this routine procedure could trigger a downstream search/seizure, interrogation, and detainment of the patient.

Dr. Jefferson emphasizes the importance of being an active participant in protecting patient privacy. In his patient encounters, he separates the police from the doctor-patient relationship and dispels the idea that the medical team will report protected health information to the police. He explicitly lets patients know that the preceding events that brought them to the hospital do not have an impact on how he will treat them. Additionally, the negative experience of a single patient will send a ripple effect through the community. The patient’s friends and family members may trust the ED less, which delays care and increases morbidity and mortality.

Finally, the doctors highlight important research and court rulings over the criminalization of patients.

Resources

A National Evaluation of the Effect of Trauma-Center Care on Mortality:
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmsa052049

Police Brutality and Black Health: Setting the Agenda for Public Health Scholars:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388955/

Policing the Emergency Room (Harvard Law Review):
https://harvardlawreview.org/2021/06/policing-the-emergency-room/

Weapons Use Among Hospital Security Personnel:
https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.iahss.org/resource/collection/48907176-3B11-4B24-A7C0-FF756143C7DE/2014_Weapons_use_among_hosptial_security_personnel.pdf

Ferguson vs. Charleston:
https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/532/67/

#WhiteCoatsForBlackLives — Addressing Physicians’ Complicity in Criminalizing Communities:
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2023305

Disclaimer: The Materials available on BackTable.com are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.

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