Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, November 2, 2021


Page 1


Court of Appeal:

Person Has No Privacy Right to Dictate What Hospital Ambulance Is to Take Person Undergoing Emergency


By a MetNews Staff Writer


An elderly husband and wife, each suffering from heart problems, do not have a right to dictate that they be taken by ambulance, when an emergency arises, to the hospital where their physicians have privileges, rather than to the nearest facility, in accordance with Sacramento County’s policy, the Third District Court of Appeal declared yesterday.

Acting Presiding Justice Coleman Blease phrased the issue in these words:

“Does the right to privacy include the individual’s right to determine which hospital emergency room an ambulance will take the person to during a medical emergency?”

He answered in the negative.

Limitation of Right

“While the right to privacy allows a person to refuse medical treatment, it does not guarantee a person the right to require a particular treatment or to be treated in a particular manner,” he wrote.

The jurist went on to say, in an unpublished opinion:

“Where an ambulance takes a person in a medical emergency is a medical decision that does not implicate one’s personal integrity or the corresponding right to refuse medical treatment. The policy at issue here does not compel a person to be placed in an ambulance and forced to go to a hospital against that person’s will, as a person may always refuse ambulance service and go to another hospital on his or her own accord. It is thus unlike surgery or another form of medical treatment without the patient’s consent….This decision likewise does not implicate one of the important decisions which implicate the right to privacy.”

Sound Reason

He added:

“A policy mandating that a person in a medical emergency be transported to the nearest appropriate medical facility reduces travel time for ambulances while getting patients most quickly to the appropriate place for treatment.  This serves both the person being transported and those awaiting an ambulance, who might otherwise lose crucial time waiting for an ambulance to become available because it was transporting a patient to a more distant facility because it was that patient’s place of choice.”

The opinion affirms a judgment by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gerrit Wood.

The case is Warren v. County of Sacramento, C088691.


Copyright 2021, Metropolitan News Company