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A 24-year-old Philadelphia woman died after arriving at a local hospital in an ambulance. Although the ambulance was only feet away from emergency room assistance, the woman’s family claims that the medics could not open the ambulance doors to get her to help. The family claims that medics botched their emergency response mission and that the young woman would otherwise have survived.
An investigation and autopsy are pending in the case and the family is likely contemplating a wrongful death suit.
The young woman was nearly nine months pregnant when she fell down a flight of stairs in her home on Monday. Her family found her suffering from an asthma attack at the bottom of the stairs and called 911. An ambulance arrived within three minutes of the call.
Although the woman was experiencing an asthma attack, video footage apparently shows the medics walking into her home without any kind of oxygen equipment. More surprisingly, they did not provide her any oxygen for another eight minutes. A high-level city official confirmed that an investigation will look at why the medics did not respond to the woman’s breathing difficulties sooner.
The medics loaded the woman and her mother into the ambulance and drove to a nearby hospital. Just as they arrived and parked outside the entrance, however, the woman’s heart stopped beating. Although they were right outside the emergency room, the medics could not get the loading doors open. They apparently tried to open them from the inside and outside of the vehicle.
After three and a half minutes, a doctor entered the vehicle through a side door to try to save the woman. Sadly, the doctor’s efforts failed and the woman died inside the ambulance. Doctors were able to save her unborn child.
The fire department is still investigating why the doors jammed and whether the medics failed to respond to the emergency appropriately. It seems likely that the family will consider a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the ambulance operators responsible for their loss. A wrongful death award could also help the family provide for the newborn child’s needs in the absence of its mother.
Source: NBC News, “Pregnant Woman Dies, Family Blames Medics,” Marisa Brahney and Lauren DiSanto, Oct. 3, 2012