Paramedics allowed to urinate in the back of the ambulance

A paramedic who urinated in the back of an ambulance in front of a patient can keep his job after a panel ruled his actions did not amount to misconduct.

Ambulance driver John Rowe looked in his mirror to see Thomas Kinnaird crouching over a sick bag as they took a man to hospital with severe chest pains.

The bag leaked and Mr Rowe later found a pool of urine on the ambulance floor, the Health Professions Council heard.

Kinnaird, who worked for the North East Ambulance Service, was later convicted of drink driving in Morpeth, Northumberland, but did not tell his bosses.

HCPC chair Lesley White told Kinnaird, now working as a clinical advisor for the NHS 111 service, that his failure to declare his conviction constituted misconduct but urinating in the ambulance did not.

She said: ‘This is a case where the exceptional outcome of imposing no sanction is both sufficient and proper.

‘There was an alternative course of action open to the registrant when he needed to urinate.

‘He could have insisted that John Rowe stop the ambulance so he could urinate outside.

‘The patient was intoxicated and he did take steps to minimise the risk that the patient became aware of his behaviour.

‘He attempted to dispose of the vomit bag discreetly.

‘If the patient did become aware of his behaviour he could have become distressed and offended and the panel believe Mr Kinnaird made the wrong choice.

‘However, it was a very unfortunate situation where the registrant had to choose between two difficult options.

‘The registrant’s conduct was below the standards expected of paramedic but not so far below to constitute misconduct.’

Matthew Kewley, for the HCPC, said: ‘On 10 July 2014 Mr Kinnaird commenced a night shift and was partnered with John Rowe.

‘At approximately 01:30 they attended an incident involving a 45-year-old male with chest pain.

‘The patient said he had drank quite a few pints of larger and the decision was made to take him to hospital.

‘Normally crews alternate between driving and attending to patients in the rear of the ambulance, and Mr Kinnaird was in the back with the patient.

‘The patient was sat in a seat facing the cab and Mr Rowe put his head round before driving off.

‘Approximately halfway into the journey, Mr Rowe looked into the rear view mirror and saw Mr Kinnaird crouched with both hands in front of his groin holding a sick bag.

‘He said Mr Kinnaird appeared to be urinating.

‘When he had finished, he put the bag into the waste bin in the rear of the ambulance.’

Mr Kewley described how the patient was taken into the hospital by Kinnaird and Mr Rowe opened the vehicle’s doors to find a puddle of urine on the floor.

Mr Kewley continued: ‘The contents of the vomit bag had leaked into the floor of the ambulance and there was a strong smell of urine.

‘Mr Rowe had a word Mr Kinnaird about the incident.

‘Mr Kinnaird stated that he had been desperate and admitted that he has urinated in the vomit bag.

‘Mr Rowe reported it to his superiors.

‘CCTV footage from the back of the ambulance was accessed and a risk assessor.

‘Stills from the footage depict Mr Kinnaird standing out of view of the patient facing the rear of the ambulance.

‘Though the stills show Mr Kinnaird’s back towards the CCTV, it is accepted that he was urinating at this time.’

Kinnaird also failed to declare a conviction for drink driving to the HCPC after appearing at South East Northumberland Magistrates Court for the offence on 9 July 2014.

He was breathalysed by police after being stopped in Morpeth, Northumberland, at 21:19 on 21 June 2014 and taken to Bedlington Police Station.

The paramedic pleaded guilty and was disqualified from driving for 24 months, which was reduced after he completed a drink driver awareness course.

Kinnaird admitted urinating in the back of the ambulance on 11 January 2014 and failing to declare his drink-driving conviction to the HCPC until 30 July 2015.

Ms White said while urinating in the back of an ambulance did not amount to misconduct his failure to disclose convictions was a far more serious matter.

‘Mr Kinnaird was almost three times over the legal limit for driving.

‘The requirement of informing the HCPC about convictions is very important and the HCPC relies on them being reported.’

Having found his fitness to practice was impaired, the panel issued no sanction and Kinnaird will be allowed to return to the profession.

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