POMONA, N.J. (CBS) – A former paramedic filed a lawsuit against his former employer, alleging he was wrongfully fired for following the wishes of a patient who refused treatment. The patient’s husband is now speaking out about the situation.
“I protected myself, the patient and also my employer,” Michael Senisch said.
After more than 34 years as a paramedic, Senisch says his career and reputation was ruined for putting a patient’s wishes above his supervisors.
In February 2016, Senisch and a partner went to Brian Johnson’s home in Mays Landing to help Johnson’s late wife, Wendy Johnson, who was suffering from a severe infection.
They had trouble putting an IV into the frail woman’s arm.
“We have to call into medical control and the order was given for what’s called an IO intraosseous infusion,” Senisch said.
Senisch explained he’d have to use a drill-like device to put an IV into Johnson’s bone.
As a firm believer in holistic over traditional medicine, even in her weak state, Johnson refused.
“She said, ‘IV yes, IO no, period,’ and I said, ‘Well, that’s my wife,” Brian Johnson said.
Senisch complied with her wish and in an effort to give Wendy Johnson comfort, he offered and administered to her a holistic treatment known as Reiki which she liked.
Upon arrival at the hospital, Senisch says he was reprimanded and three days later fired for his actions.
He’s now suing AtlantiCare for wrongful termination.
Attorneys Michelle Douglass and Philip Burnham say Senisch should not have been punished for respecting a patient’s culture and rights.
“Even when it may not be in their best conventional medical interest, if they say no, no means no,” Douglass said.
Johnson says his wife died about a month after the incident from cancer and the infection, but he appreciates Senisch’s respect for his family’s new age beliefs.
“He did everything correctly, according to what they should do to service the community that they’re going to service,” Johnson said.
A representative for AtlantiCare calls the claims “untrue.”
“The lawsuit filed in 2016 by a former paramedic contains a number of claims that are simply untrue,” a statement from AtlantiCare reads. “It is unfortunate that the former paramedic and his attorney waited until now, only weeks before jury selection, to publicize his false allegations in the media. We look forward to presenting the actual facts of the case to a jury in a few weeks. The care and safety of our patients is always our highest priority. Until we have the opportunity to share the facts of this case in an impartial court of law, we will refrain from commenting further.”