Lawyer’s advice Useful materials

What is emergency medical care and how must be provided?

Emergency medical care is provided in line with the provisions of the Law of Ukraine “On emergency medical care.” Refusal to insure transfer and acceptance of an emergency medical care call is forbidden, with liability imposed (Article 4).

Emergency medical care is medical assistance including urgent actions of healthcare providers aiming at saving and maintaining the life of a person in an emergency condition and minimizing the health consequences of such condition.

What you need to consider

  • Emergency medical care called at 103 must be delivered to anyone free of charge regardless of the availability of declaration with a family doctor. No online referral is needed to call the ambulance. Calling 103 means that a person is having a medical emergency.

A medical emergency is a sudden deterioration of physical or mental wellbeing posing a direct and imminent threat to the person’s life and health or other people occurring as a result of a disease, trauma, poisoning or other intrinsic or external causes.

There are several categories of calls depending on the patient’s condition.

  • A critical call means that the patient is in critical condition and needs resuscitation. Such condition is marked by absence of breathing, ineffective breathing, massive blood loss or hemorrhage.
  • An emergency call implies that the patient is having a medical emergency marked by fainting or loss of consciousness, signs of acute coronary syndrome, signs of acute cerebral stroke, breathing difficulties, and other relevant signs and complaints.
  • Non-emergency calls are the calls about patients who are not having a medical emergency and whose condition will not deteriorate for the delay in providing medical care, but such patients need to be assessed by a healthcare worker.

Emergency medical care is provided free of charge, including:

  • On scene: in the street, in public places, at work, in various institutions;
  • During transportation of the patient in need of emergency medical care, in response to the call of health professionals;
  • Upon personal call to an emergency medical care unit by a patient in a life-threatening state.

In addition, emergency care teams must visit patients with COVID-19 in critical condition to assess the person’s health status, the need for hospitalization and to transport a person with suspected COVID-19 to a pre-defined hospital. If the COVID-19 patient does not need hospitalization, medical care and recommendations must be provided on-site.

The Law envisages liability for the following offense:

  • Failure to provide on the scene paramedical and medical care without a valid reason or unjustified refusal to provide such care;
  • Failure to provide an available vehicle for free transportation of a person in the state of medical emergency, to the nearest emergency room without a valid reason, or unjustified refusal to provide such transportation;
  • Untimely provision of emergency medical care or obstructing provision of such care.

Conduct of a patient upon refusal to provide emergency medical services.

  • Based on the urgency of the situation, you need to urgently call the hotline of the oblast health department. In some regions, there are special hotlines for emergency medical care. You can also call the Ministry of Health hotline at 0-800-505-201 and government hotline at 1545 to report unjustified refusal to provide emergency medical care and the need in receiving such care.
  • If these efforts were not successful, you need to contact the oblast health department and submit a written report (complaint) demanding to hold the healthcare workers liable for violating the right to receiving medical care. The oblast health department must duly register the complaint and respond to it.
  • If the client remains unsatisfied, he/she can file a complaint to the Ministry of Health or to court. An appeal to court is possible regardless of the institutional vertical review of the acts of the healthcare worker.
  • If any consequence of the refusal to provide emergency medical care or of untimely provision of emergency medical care to the patient in need of such care, occur, you can file a complaint to the National Police of Ukraine based on Art. 139 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for an unreasonable failure to provide medical care by a healthcare provider obliged to provide such care if he healthcare provider is aware about the severe health consequences of such failure for the patient.