Ambulance service probed by police after mistakes caused deaths of 13 patients in a year

March 26, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

An ambulance service is being investigated by police after a catalogue of mistakes by paramedics and staff led to the deaths of 13 patients last year.

Blunders by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) also included a paramedic losing a batch of morphine tablets when he left them on the roof of a rapid response car.

The most serious incident happened when an obese patient died after an ambulance which was due to collect him from his home broke down.

East Midlands Ambulance Service is being probed by police after mistakes caused the deaths of 13 patients last year (Picture: Wikicommons / EMAS)

East Midlands Ambulance Service is being probed by police after mistakes caused the deaths of 13 patients last year (Picture: Wikicommons / EMAS)

Rather than send a replacement vehicle, the man was forced to wait for three hours at home but died shortly after medical staff reached him.

Figures released yesterday (Tue) revealed 53 ‘serious incidents’ last year – a rise of six per cent from the previous year – which resulted in 13 deaths.

Four cases are being probed by police and 27 failures are being investigated by the ambulance service.

In one case a 76-year-old man died after waiting four hours for an ambulance while another patient passed away after it took eight hours for medics to reach him.

On another ocassion a lady who had fallen on the floor was “not suitably immobilised” by an EMAS responder.

The lady was later found to have a broken neck and has since died.

In another incident personal medical details of patients were made freely accessible to anyone on the internet after a contractor saved the date to his “personal web space”.

The errors come after EMAS failed once again to hit its response times this year.

In January the service was the worst in the country for responding to the most serious 999 calls.

The last time EMAS met the Government target for responding to such calls – known in the ambulance service as Category 8 Red 1 – was last June.

Ashfield MP Gloria de Piero said she was “absolutely shocked and appalled” by the report while Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, said it was “completely unacceptable”.

EMAS Chief Executive Phil Milligan said: “The way we operate now is simply not delivering the performance that local people deserve and national Government expects.”

Dr Ian Campbell, a GP in Carlton, Notts., said: “Mistakes do happen, accidents do occur.

“The issue here, for me, would be the frequency that EMAS experiences them.

“In my experience, when the NHS fails repeatedly, it is usually due to a shortage of manpower, and individuals being overloaded with workload.

“The temptation then is to take shortcuts, stop adhering to safety policy, and then mishaps follow.”

A spokesperson for EMAS added: “In the year to date, EMAS crews have responded to over 550,000 emergency calls.

“The number of serious incidents reported (53 for 2012/13) equates to 0.009%, or a serious incident every 10,377 jobs.

“EMAS is open and honest and publishes information about all serious incidents for the Trust Board to consider (and publishes details on our website).

“We encourage staff to report all incidents so we’re able to investigate and learn from the findings and then take action to prevent repetition wherever possible.

“We share real-life clinical case studies with our staff to raise awareness and prevent a reoccurrence.

“Many of the incidents in question relate to delayed responses to 999 calls and that is the reason we have introduced our Being the Best plan to improve the speed at which we respond.

“We are confident this, together with investment from our commissioners (so we have more staff on the road) will improve our performance.”

Last week EMAS announced it would be recruiting 140 more frontline staff and investing #120,000 in community defibrillators.

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