Barrow woman, 92, lay in agony for hour as 999 centre faltered
Last updated at 16:39, Monday, 10 September 2012
A 92-YEAR-OLD woman lay with a fractured thigh for more than an hour as the ambulance service failed to help her quickly enough, an inquest heard.
The delay in getting help to Winifred Jackson, 92, after she fell in Ostley House care home was “not satisfactory”, South and East Cumbria Coroner Ian Smith said at the hearing in Barrow on Friday.
Amanda Younger, a senior care assistant at the home, in Abbey Road, Barrow, said on April 19 she was called to one of the communal rooms in the property where Mrs Jackson had fallen down.
Not wanting to move Mrs Jackson, she made the first of three calls for an ambulance at about 6.10pm.
Peter Ballan, a sector manager at the North West Ambulance Service’s control room, in Preston, said when the call was received, the description of Mrs Jackson’s situation meant it was logged as ‘Green Four’.
This meant a clinician would ring the caller back within 60 minutes to assess the situation.
When the clinician rang back at 6.21pm, they made the decision an ambulance should be sent to help Mrs Jackson within 60 minutes.
However, at 7.04pm, Mrs Jackson was becoming distressed and crying out in pain, prompting Ms Younger to call for an ambulance again.
However, Mr Ballan said the handler failed to respond to this call correctly.
He said if a patient’s condition was worsening then the handler should have responded by sending help.
He said: “Unfortunately the call wasn’t processed correctly. They weren’t actively listening on the call when it was described that Mrs Jackson had become distressed.”
However, when Ms Younger made a third call at 7.29pm an ambulance was dispatched.
Mrs Jackson was taken to Furness General Hospital where she died three weeks later after contracting pneumonia.
The call handler had been spoken to about the incident and had their mistake explained to them, Mr Gallan said.
A bulletin had also been circulated to remind handlers how to deal with such situations appropriately.
Anthony Jackson, 49, Mrs Jackson’s son, asked why his mother had been left unsupervised by staff when the family had understood she would get around the clock care.
However, Ms Younger said although care was on hand for the residents of the home at all hours, it was impossible to directly supervise them the whole time.
The inquest heard although sensors had been fitted to some of the chairs Mrs Jackson used to alert staff when she stood up, she had not been using one of these chairs when she got up before her fall.
Mr Smith said when Mrs Jackson died she was suffering from pneumonia, furring of the arteries and a fractured left femur.
However, he did not think the delay in getting an ambulance to her would have contributed to her eventual death.
He said: “I don’t think the problem that occurred in that hour-and-a-half made any difference.”
Mr Smith recorded a verdict of death by “natural causes made worse by an accident”.
First published at 16:28, Monday, 10 September 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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Getting an ambulance in an emergency is getting worse. We had to wait 90 minutes for one last year when our 2 day old grandson was struggling to breathe. We have ambulances stationed all over this area but one was sent from Morecambe. We could have driven the baby to RLI in less than an hour but were waiting for the experts. An emergency op at Manchester put the baby right and he's now a happy, healthy toddler but we were so very close to losing him.
Unfortunately I don't believe this is an isolated incident. A few months ago my 78 years old disabled mother fell ill with a severe infection. As with most elderly people she didn't want to cause a fuss, although we did have two doctor visits within 2 days(one following a collapse when she tried to get out of bed) which were appreciated. The situation became so bad that she had to be persuaded to go into hospital and after a visit from a nursing team (who were very good)am ambulance was arranged. The nurses indicated we would probably have to wait about one hour for the ambulance. Some 2 hours later I called to make sure the ambulance was on its way and was told my mother had been 'designated' as being able to wait 1-4 hours for an ambulance. Given that by this stage she was very poorly and uncomfortable, having been unable to eat for some days and taken very little fluids, this was a distressing situation for all of us. After a 5 hour wait we again chased the ambulance only to be told that all ambulances in the area had been busy on emergencies throughout that time and my mother was not a priority! After further chasing, the ambulance eventually arrived after 6 hours and 10 minutes, with an excellent but somewhat embarrassed crew. We know that for much of the time there were ambulances parked at the local ambulance station which rather raises some questions for us. And then guess what? Despite the fact that the decision to admit her to hospital had already been taken, it seems there is no way for this to happen without the lengthy (generally at least 4 hours!!)wait on a trolley in A & E. I should add that almost without exception the ambulance and hospital staff who have dealt with my mother through a number of admissions have been great. The problem seems to be more one of poor organisation or perhaps too much focus on meeting farcical targets that do nothing to support patient care but allow the various parts of the NHS to claim they are effective and lay blame elsewhere.
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