News : Human Error at NSW Ambulance Service Call Centre Causes Death
Nov 22, 2013 -- The New South Wales Ambulance Service has apologised to the family of a Sydney toddler who died after human error prevented an ambulance from reaching the boy in time.
The 18-month-old boy from Tregear in Sydney's west was suffering shortness of breath at a medical centre in September.
A non-emergency call was made from the centre requesting an ambulance, but the operator incorrectly typed in that the ambulance was needed at 19:45 that night rather than 9:45 in the morning.
The ambulance did not arrive in the requested 30 minutes, and the child died an hour later in hospital.
NSW Ambulance Service Chief Executive Ray Creen says it is a tragic human error.
He says interim changes have been made to prevent further mistakes.
"It has to be double checked by another operator, and confirming the call pick up time with the caller," he said.
Mr Creen says the service is investigating whether the manual logging system for non-urgent calls can be replaced by technology.
"We're looking at how we can automate that," he said.
"At this stage we're not sure how that can be done, given the variances of pick up times that the non-emergency system requires."
Internal and independent investigations are expected to lead to further changes to prevent future tragedies.
"It's made recommendations that I've accepted so far as investigating further technology fixes and changing the call-taking questions we ask of doctors for non-emergencies," Mr Creen said.
"So we'll be implementing them as soon as we can."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About New South Wales Ambulance Service:
The Ambulance Service of New South Wales (ASNSW), an agency of the Ministry of Health of the New South Wales Government, is the statutory provider of pre-hospital emergency care and ambulance services in the state of New South Wales, Australia.
Published: Monday, November 25, 2013