Today’s question is
… about the requirement to supply the completing paramedic’s full name on an Emergency Examination Authority (QLD). We have been advised by our Medical Director (as part of the clinical practice guidelines) that the full name of the paramedic has to be documented on the EEA as opposed to a payroll number or first initial and last name. I have had discussions with paramedics who are concerned for their privacy should the patient gain access to the EEA. If they had concerns with the legitimacy of the EEA, individual would have to raise their concerns with the service rather than the individual, therefore by using a payroll number, the organization could easily identify who the officer was.
Would just putting a payroll number make the EEA invalid?
I have tried to find in the legislation the requirements but have been unsuccessful.
The relevant legislation is the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) ss 157B to 157F. As noted in an earlier discussion (Involuntary detention by police or ambulance officers under the Public Health Act (Qld) (March 16, 2021)), the Emergency Examination Authority is a document completed by a police officer or paramedic and delivered to the health facility where the patient is delivered. It is not a document delivered to the patient, but the patient will have a right to access their entire medical record including the EEA (Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights (second edition); Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) Sch 3, Privacy Principle 6.1).
We therefore have to consider what is required on the EEA. Critically, an EEA must (s 157D(2)) ‘be in the approved form’. Approved form means ‘means a form approved by the chief executive or the chief executive officer of a local government’ (Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) Sch 2). It won’t be local government approving this form, it will be the chief executive of Queensland Health (Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld) s 33 and Administrative Arrangements Order (No. 2) 2020 (Qld)). A copy of the approved form can be found on the Queensland Health website (https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/812259/329_170206_v1-00_PH-Emergency-Examination-Authority_Print.pdf; see also Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld) s 48).
My correspondent says:
We have been advised by our Medical Director (as part of the clinical practice guidelines) that the full name of the paramedic has to be documented on the EEA as opposed to a payroll number or first initial and last name.
I confess I cannot find that requirement. QAS publish both Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) and Clinical Practice Procedures (CPPs) (https://www.ambulance.qld.gov.au/clinical.html). Without knowing these documents as a paramedic would, the only relevant one I can find is Clinical Practice Procedures: Behavioural disturbances/Emergency Examination Authority (April 2021; CPD_BD_EEA_0421) (and I have noted elsewhere that I do not think this CPP correctly identifies the law with respect to an EEA – see In Queensland, is threatening suicide evidence of ‘a major disturbance in [a] person’s mental capacity’? (August 6, 2020)). I cannot see that this CPP says that a paramedic’s name has to be completed ‘in full’ rather it says
The EEA documentation … must include:…
* The ambulance clinician’s declaration completed in full.
The declaration that forms Part 4 of the form is shown here:
Readers can see that it calls for the ambulance officer or police officer to complete the form with their name, rank, station and contact number and to sign the form. Neither the form, the CPP, the Public Health Act nor the Acts Interpretation Act define what is meant by ‘name’. I would think First Initial and Surname, – in my case M. Eburn – is my name, as is ‘Eburn’. (The tradition among barristers is to only ever refer to each other by surname, so in the legal profession (at least amongst the old school) my name is indeed just ‘Eburn’). Given many of us have more than one name we would not expect to write all our ‘middle’ names so it must stand to reason that something less than the names shown on our passport is sufficient. Putting just one’s payroll number would not be putting your name.
One has to consider that given a paramedic is also required to put a contact number it may be that the health facility will want to call and get more information. They don’t want to ring ‘paramedic number xxx’ they want to know the name of the paramedic, even if that is just a surname –
- Q: Is that paramedic Bloggs?
- A: Yes
- Q: Did you complete the EEA for patient Jones?
- A: Yes
- Q: Great, I’ve just got a couple of questions ….
I agree with the statement given in CPD_BD_EEA_0421 that ‘The ambulance clinician’s declaration [must be] completed in full’ but that does not answer what ‘in full’ means. It does mean the ambulance officer has to give their name, not just their payroll number.
Neither the law nor the CPD make clear whether a first initial and surname or surname alone is sufficient. It is my view that all of these do represent the paramedic’s ‘name’. They are not the paramedic’s entire name, but paramedics would not be expected to complete the form with their full name – ‘Brian John Richard Thomas Bloggs III’. If some selective use is permitted, then B. Bloggs, or just ‘Bloggs’ is the paramedics name. We would know that the form required more if it had a space for ‘first name’ and another space for ‘last name’, but it doesn’t.
It seems to me it is really up to the person completing the form to decide from all of their names what their name is for the purpose of this form (and provided they don’t just make up a name, it does have to identify them). Because the form does have to allow clinical staff to identify the paramedic, if a person has a popular surname, it makes sense to at least put a first initial particularly if there is more than one paramedic with the same surname working out of the same station, otherwise the declaration does not allow the paramedic to be identified.
It is however my view that putting just a payroll number would not be completing the declaration and therefore the approved form would not be properly completed and that could lead to a question of validity.