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Vet dies waiting for an ambulance 20 minutes inside VA hospital cafeteria

Vet dies at Veteran Hospital waiting for an ambulance to drive him a few hundred yards.
Vet dies at Veteran Hospital waiting for an ambulance to drive him a few hundred yards.
Wikimedia Commons

When a veteran collapsed in the cafeteria of the Albuquerque Veteran Affairs hospital they called an ambulance, even though the ER was a few hundred yards away. It took 20 minutes for an ambulance to get to him. The bizarre twist to this incident is that he collapsed just minutes away from the emergency room in the same building.

That vet died waiting for that ambulance to arrive when he could have been put on a gurney and brought to the emergency room, which was only 500 yards away. There they had the technology and medication that might have saved him, according to the Huffington Post on July 4.

Kirtland Air Force Medical Group personal performed CPR on the man until the ambulance arrived, but that was too late. Staff claim that they followed the policy set forth by the hospital and that policy instructed them to call 911 for an ambulance. The hospital policy is now under review since this incident occurred. The American Thinker suggest that this is par for the course stating, “Tell me this isn’t indicative of government run health care.”

VA spokesperson Sonja Brown said that the staff followed policy by calling the ambulance, but that policy is a local policy just for this VA Hospital. The man’s name has not been released at this time.

Lorenzo Calbert, 65, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War was sad to hear that a fellow veteran “had to die so close to where he could have received help.” He said with all the workers they have on the premises that there was no reason for them not to put him on a gurney and run him over to the emergency room.

While this policy sounds absolutely ridiculous, Paul Bronston who is not only an emergency room physician, but he chairs the Ethics and Professional Policy Committee of the American College of Medical Quality, claims that it is done for a purpose.

Bronston said that calling an ambulance from inside the hospital is a practice that is "standard at hospitals." His reasoning for this is that the ambulance would typically arrive faster than it did in this case and “other factors can stall workers from rushing the patients to the emergency room on foot.”

It is not known what caused the man to collapse, so it is not known if getting him to the emergency room would have saved his life. What is known is that if the man had gotten to the emergency room quicker, he had a much better chance at living if what he suffered from was treatable.

Sadly, this comes as one more incident of the Veteran Hospital problems surfacing in the last year. Hospitals are shown to have “significant and chronic systems failures” through a review that was done last week.

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