Tragic death follows ambulance doctor's refusal to lend family defribrillator

Ke Jiayun
Health authorities mourn death of critically ill man and apologize for the circumstances. The emergency physician involved has been suspended.
Ke Jiayun

The Pudong New Area Health Commission has apologized for a man's death after an emergency physician on an ambulance refused a family member's request to lend the vehicle defibrillator in time to save him, according to an announcement by the commission on Thursday.

The involved physician has been suspended from his duties.

A video about the incident went viral online last night, showing the woman seeking help from the medics to save a patient who was not breathing.

The health commission said it launched overnight an investigation into how the incident happened in a residential community on Shunchang Road and disclosed the details.

After eventually learning that the patient was in a critical condition, the nucleic acid testing medical workers at the community visited his home and applied emergency treatment to him for tens of minutes. However, the rescue efforts were ineffectual on the man, who later died.

The ambulance involved in the incident was attending to a task for another patient living in the community. At the time, the patient had got into the ambulance which was about to head to the hospital.

It was stopped by the woman, who asked the medics to lend her the vehicle's defibrillator to help the ailing man.

As the patient was at his home, the emergency physician could not assess his condition so he declined the woman's request and decided to send the onboard patient to hospital first.

The commission pointed out that although the physician was engaged in an emergency task at that time, he didn't handle the woman's request properly.

It said it deeply mourned the man's death and apologized for the physician's lack of experience and failing to lend the defibrillator.

It said it would enhance its training of medical workers in Pudong, who will try their best to provide professional and safe medical services under the current complex and tough conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sina Weibo, netizen "Qiuqiuyeshiaxiu," who claimed to be the man's daughter, said her father had difficulty breathing yesterday morning and didn't get better after using an asthma spray. The family called the 120 hotline but no ambulance arrived for more than an hour.

After an ambulance arrived in the community, the ailing man's family was informed that it was called by their neighbor. They then contacted the neighbor who agreed to let them use the ambulance first. However, the medic on the ambulance said they could not change the patient on their own and refused to provide treatment and facilities.

During the press briefing this morning, Wu Jinglei, director of Shanghai Health Commission, said during this current period the 120 emergency center is weighed down by both answering calls and operating.

Although it has taken lots of emergency measures, added more ambulances and with its workload tripled, it said it still can't completely meet the demands of all patients. And problems like a few workers' lack of experience and capability to handle emergency conditions still exist, it said.

Special Reports