Queensland health officials have conceded “we obviously should have done better” after a Brisbane mother suffering chest pains died when an ambulance failed to answer her pleas for help.
Cath Groom died from a suspected heart condition at her Forest Lake home, with her teenage son making the grim discovery on Saturday morning — the day she was meant to be celebrating turning 52.
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She had waited more than 90 minutes for an ambulance before cancelling the request when it didn’t show.
Queensland Ambulance Service Commissioner Craig Emery admitted more should have been done to get her to hospital.
“We obviously should have done better in these set of circumstances,” he told 7NEWS.
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Groom made her first triple-0 call complaining of chest pains about 10.30pm on Friday but despite the job being labelled a category one priority, no ambulance arrived.
Loved ones received a call from a QAS clinician 50 minutes after the initial call to get an update on the ill woman’s condition, yet an ambulance was still unavailable.
By midnight, with Groom feeling slightly better, the request for an ambulance was cancelled by the family.
Groom’s lifeless body was discovered the following morning.
The initial reason given for the ambulance delay was high demand on Friday night.
“Family members should never have been put in that circumstance (of having to cancel the ambulance),” Emery said.
“That was a decision that should not have to have been made because our arrival should have been much earlier.”
Cath Groom died the morning after waiting 90 minutes for an ambulance that never showed. Credit: Supplied
Emery added: “We should’ve responded to that patient in a much more timely manner. Ten to 15 minutes would be an appropriate response time.”
In a statement to 7NEWS, Groom’s sister said Queensland Ambulance Service had “let down my family”.
The death comes just days after grandfather Wayne Irving died after waiting three hours in the back of an ambulance at Ipswich Hospital.
Irving is believed to have suffered a fatal heart attack as he was being transferred from a stretcher to a bed.
Upgrades have already been announced, with the hospital to receive 12 extra beds at the emergency department’s short-stay unit.
The hospital will also be boosted with 24 new beds in acute wards to help improve patient flow.
The Australian Medical Association published a sobering report on ambulance ramping just a day before Groom’s death, saying the problem had reached “unforeseen levels”.
Queensland has a target of transferring 90 per cent of patients from an ambulance to the emergency department within 30 minutes, but AMA figures show just 58.7 per cent of cases are hitting that mark or bettering it.
With health systems under pressure right across the country, AMA President Steve Robson said change was needed.
“Behind every number and every statistic, there is a harrowing personal tale of a patient forced to wait far too long just to be transferred from an ambulance to the ED,” Robson said.
“This issue continues to dominate news headlines every day. Patients, doctors, paramedics and hospital staff all deserve decisive action from governments to address ramping, ED overcrowding and hospital logjams.”
Two clinical reviews are now underway into the deaths of Groom and Irving.
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