The death of a pregnant woman while receiving emergency care has prompted the suspension of two Philadelphia paramedics after more than two months of investigations. That has some parties wondering whether the investigation revealed significant errors in procedure on the part of the paramedics.
The incident occurred after paramedics responded to a 911 call. The mother, who was 24 years old and nine months pregnant, had fallen down a flight of stairs after developing trouble breathing.
A relative of the girl said she informed the dispatcher of the difficulty breathing. But when paramedics arrived three minutes later, paramedics entered the home without any medical equipment.
According to the relative, the paramedics tried to force the pregnant woman to perform actions she said she couldn’t do. It then took another eight minutes for medics to bring the woman outside, and another minute before oxygen was administered.
According to the city’s fire commissioner, one goal of emergency response is to immediately provide oxygen to anyone who reports difficulty breathing.
But the worst delay came outside the hospital’s entrance. The ambulance door jammed and resulted in another delay lasting more than three minutes. The stuck door came at a critical time when the woman’s heart had stopped beating. Although a doctor climbed into the vehicle and began working on her while the door was freed, it was too late to save her. She died before she could be brought inside.
Fortunately, the woman’s baby was able to be delivered by emergency cesarean section.
While the autopsy said the woman died of natural causes, her family believes medical errors and poor EMT training prevented her from being saved. It’s possible that the city could face a wrongful death lawsuit by the woman’s family, if they decide to go that route.
Source: NBC Philadelphia, “Paramedics Suspended After Pregnant Woman Dies in Ambulance,” Marisa Brahney, Jan. 9, 2013