Is it legal for me to prohibit my employer from calling an ambulance for me if I have a seizure? Because that would most likely be unnecessary and I wouldn't want to pay for it.

  • 12
    Please let us know where (country, province, region, state) this is. Jan 14 '19 at 17:16
  • 11
    @SandraK no, it doesn't mean that the employer would have to pay for it. I just went through this myself. Jan 14 '19 at 17:16
  • 8
    @LordFarquaad "Not messy" is not frequently used to describe the US healthcare system Jan 14 '19 at 20:07
  • 2
    @LordFarquaad I work in a hospital, so I doubt they'd send one, instead of just asking me to come upstairs Jan 14 '19 at 21:00
  • 3
    @DJClayworth The caller is not generally responsible for the ambulance bill (hoax calls excepted), but the subject of the call often is. A complicating issue is that there may be liability for the employer if the OP experiences something that presents sort of like a "normal" seizure but isn't as harmless. If the OP wants to sign a specific contract waiving any possible legal action should an ambulance fail to be called, ever, maybe. But I wouldn't count on every employee getting that memo. Applying "reasonableness" or "common sense" to U.S. medical billing is nearly always a mistake.
    – Upper_Case
    Jan 14 '19 at 23:24

I think communication and mutual understanding is key here.

I don't know any place where you could legally forbid your employer from calling an ambulance. On the contrary, the employer is bound to care for your physical and mental wellbeing, a fact that is often ignored.

You should have a serious talk with your manager and the people working near you most of the time. If there are dedicated first aid workers in your company, invite them as well. Explain to them what a typical seizure looks like, how they should react to prevent injuries to you and themselves, and how long to wait until they call an ambulance. Be aware that telling them to never call an ambulance will most likely not work. It would help them immensly if you told them how often you usually get seizures and for how long.

For an untrained person, seing someone having a seizure is very shocking. The first instinct (and what every first aid training tells you) is to call the emergency number. If you're aware that a seizure is imminent, try saying "no ambulance" or something like that right before it starts.


You cannot block an employer from calling an ambulance for a medical emergency. I have diabetes, and even though a low blood sugar episode can be countered with orange juice, they will still call the rescue squad.

This is unfortunately, not your call, as it is an issue of liability. All that you can do is refuse any and all medical aid when they come.


Knowing whether it would be legal or not would be largely dependent on locale. That said, even if it were legal for you to provide some sort of waiver or agreement to them that said not to call an ambulance, as an employer I'd be deeply uncomfortable with such an arrangement, and I expect many others would be too.

You say that it would "most likely be unnecessary" - which implies that there is a chance it would be necessary. I'm not sure I'd like to be in a position to explain to anyone - lawyers, employer's liability insurers, and least of all to an employee's grieving relatives why we didn't call an ambulance when they were seizing.

  • The sun will most likely rise tomorrow. There's a chance it won't. Are you going to spend a lot of time preparing for the chance that it won't?
    – user91988
    Jan 14 '19 at 17:26
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    I seriously doubt any employer would allow themselves to be put in a situation where they had to rely on the goodwill of family, employee or their trial lawyers to not fight such an agreement as irrelevant if they followed the employee's wishes and it would up with the employee being seriously harmed. There would be massive legal costs as the courts hashed out "but they specifically told us not to call an ambulance" vs "not for something that serious. Employer should have known better, was negligent and is liable." Jan 14 '19 at 17:44
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    @only_pro Not a great analogy, considering the liability on the company is huge if there are in fact medical consequences from not getting the OP medical attention.
    – element11
    Jan 14 '19 at 17:46
  • @element11 I'm just pointing out the flaws in the logic used in this answer.
    – user91988
    Jan 14 '19 at 18:09
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    @only_pro No, your analogy is silly for two reasons. First, the chance of the sun not rising tomorrow is microscopically small, whereas the chance of serious medical complications arising from a seizure are not small, even for someone who experiences them regularly, and usually has no serious problem. Second, there is no reasonable or prudent action someone can take to prepare for the sun not coming up, whereas calling an ambulance for someone having a seizure would certainly seem to be prudent, even if only in retrospect, after something untoward happened. It's a tricky problem. Jan 14 '19 at 18:29

Unless your employer and colleagues are trained medical professionals that can diagnose a seizure where medical attention is not necessary, there is nothing you can do to prevent them from calling an ambulance should you have any issue. That being said, they will not be charged for calling an ambulance and neither will you.

  • 4
    Those of us trained in first aid have an idea when it's time to call an ambulance. And you are right, in most places, calling them results in no charges. You are only charged if they actually take you to the hospital. But this is not a universal truth for every state. In some states the casualty is required to sue the caller to pay for the ambulance.
    – Trevor
    Jan 14 '19 at 18:10
  • @Pac0 that's unfortunate as that leads to first responders not wanting to help for fear of being tracked down and sued for ambulance payments.
    – Trevor
    Jan 15 '19 at 14:01

I am not a lawyer neither I am HR, bu if I were HR, I would probably frown upon this "prohibition clause" and instructs coworkers not to comply (and call an ambulance if needed), unless there is insurance that there is no risk for the company.

Why ? Imagine the following scenario :

  1. You have a seizure.

  2. Unfortunately, this is not one of your usual, or some nasty other thing happen in the same time

  3. coworkers can't tell the difference, ambulance is not called.

  4. You lose your life or left with heavy / irreparable damage

  5. You or your relatives sue the company for non-assistance.

-> Company must pay heavy compensation (and may get some bad reputation)

(and, as an off-topic side effect, it's also bad for you too)

I can imagine such a "play with employee's life" clause possible if, for instance there is a already recognized medical staff that could take the responsibility to not call the ambulance in the emergency situation.

In any case, if you still want to take this risk for yourself, you should go see a lawyer and / or your doctor.

They are the people who can have knowledge of similar legal situations and find a way to make such a clause possible and riskless for the company, if it is possible.

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