Ambulance service sorry for failings before ‘tragic’ death

The Scottish Ambulance Service failed to thoroughly assess the patient.

Ambulance service sorry for failings before ‘tragic’ death iStock

The Scottish Ambulance Service has apologised for failing to thoroughly assess an anxious patient before taking them to hospital where they died shortly after.

One morning, parents found their child to be anxious and unwell. The patient, referred to as A in an official report, suffered from anxiety.

They also had a functional neurological illness – a condition in which patients experience neurological symptoms such as “weakness, movement disorders, sensory symptoms and blackouts” but without any damage to the nervous system.

Believing their child’s condition was different to previous episodes, a doctor was called to visit A at home.

On assessing A, the GP called 999 for an ambulance to take them to hospital. A crew arrived and, following a discussion with the doctor about which department A should be admitted to, they took the patient to hospital where they went into the Intensive Care Unit.

They died later that day.

One of A’s parents complained to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) that the ambulance crew did not take their adult child’s observations, failed to follow protocol and failed to take them to the Clinical Assessment Unit straight away.

The SPSO consulted an independent paramedic and found that the crew that attended the scene did not carry out or document a thorough patient assessment.

The Ombudsman said there were multiple assessment tools available that could have been used and were not.

When A’s breathing rate was “abnormally high, further action was not taken as it should have been”.

The SPSO asked the Ambulance Service to apologise to A’s parents and share the findings of the investigation into the incident with the crew involved.

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “This is a tragic case and we would again like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family for their loss.

“We cannot comment in detail on individual cases due to patient confidentiality but we have worked alongside the ombudsman throughout their investigation.

“We note the SPSO’s findings, and have since undertaken all the recommendations made. We are very sorry for the outcome.”

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