The Health and Disability Commissioner found that St John didn’t take proper care of a patient who had a heart attack after calling 111

When a man’s blood tests suggested a potential heart attack, his doctor advised him to call 111 for an ambulance for immediate transport to the emergency department.

However, upon relaying this information to the 111 operator, he was informed that his doctor was likely being overly cautious. Consequently, he was triaged as potentially serious but not in an immediately life-threatening situation.

Instead of dispatching a St John ambulance promptly, Fire and Emergency NZ (Fenz) was initially sent, leading to an additional hour-long wait until a St John ambulance finally arrived to provide assistance.

Expressing frustration over the delayed response, the man, identified as Mr. A, lodged a complaint with the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) regarding the handling of his call for help by Hato Hone St John.

Subsequent investigations by the HDC revealed that Mr. A, in his 40s, had visited his doctor in May 2021 due to chest discomfort during physical activity. After receiving critical test results indicating high levels of troponin, a protein linked to heart attacks, his doctor promptly instructed him to call an ambulance.

Despite the urgency conveyed by his doctor, when Mr. A dialed 111, he was subjected to a series of questions to assess his symptoms. Eventually, a St John ambulance was dispatched, but only after an initial response by Fenz.

Upon arrival, the Fenz team conducted preliminary assessments, but St John staff failed to perform any clinical assessments of Mr. A. Eventually, it was decided that Mr. A’s wife would drive him to the hospital, contrary to the doctor’s directive to take an ambulance.

Mr. A reached the emergency department nearly four hours after the initial call to his doctor. He was subsequently admitted and transferred to the critical care unit, where he remained for four days.

In her report, Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Dr. Vanessa Caldwell criticized St John’s failure to recognize the seriousness of Mr. A’s condition and ensure a thorough assessment before leaving the scene.

Moreover, Caldwell highlighted concerns over the dismissive attitude of St John staff towards Mr. A’s condition and their failure to explain the risks of not opting for ambulance transport.

Following the investigation, St John acknowledged the breaches in its procedures and apologized unreservedly to Mr. A and his family. The organization committed to improving its systems and guidelines to deliver a higher standard of care.

While Officer D, the ambulance officer involved, no longer works for St John, the organization continues to strive for excellence in responding to the approximately 700,000 calls it receives annually through the 111 system.

Exit mobile version