Oct 21, 2021

Coroner to investigate great-grandfather’s death after five-hour wait for ambulance

Coroner to investigate great-grandfather’s death after five-hour wait for ambulance

The coroner will investigate the death of an 89-year-old South Australian great-grandfather after he waited up to five hours for an ambulance to arrive. 

The family of Brian Skeffington called an ambulance for the otherwise fit and healthy man on 25 September, but waited up to five hours for one to arrive.

SA Ambulance Service pager records show an ambulance was dispatched to Brian’s nursing home three times over the course of the day, but on each occasion was diverted to a more urgent job, according to InDaily.

A fourth ambulance finally reached Brian, and he was taken to Royal Adelaide Hospital. But after spending five days in intensive care, he died.

Though Brian’s family believes the wait was about five hours, SA Ambulance Service told InDaily the wait time was closer to four hours.

SA Ambulance Service said 25 September was declared ‘OPSTAT RED’ due to staff shortages, and demand for ambulances was having a significant impact on the organisation’s ability to deliver timely, safe services.

Brian’s son Martin Skeffington, who is himself a nurse, said his father would still be alive if he hadn’t had to wait so long for an ambulance.

“By the time he got into hospital he was in a critical condition, having aspirated his own vomit,” Martin told 7News.

Brain’s vomiting was caused by a bowel obstruction that day, but he was otherwise fit and healthy.

Martin said he is speaking out to highlight slow ambulance response times, and he hopes he might be able to prevent other families suffering a similar tragedy.

Chris Picton, Shadow Health Minister, told 7News the case is “absolutely horrifying”.

“This sends a really dangerous signal about how bad our health system has become,” he said.

The State Coroner is investigating the case.

Two other cases related to delayed ambulances are also before the South Australian coroner.

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