I-Team Uncovers Ambulance Violations

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images sizedimage 132231810 I Team Uncovers Ambulance Violations“,,,06:00.0,”The CBS4 I-Team uncovered ambulance companies that could be putting your health and safety at risk. Kathy Curran has been working with the I-Team and shows us how some emergency care providers are in need of their own critical care.

Abdullah Rehayem, Office of Emergency Medical Services:
“All ambulance providers have the goal of providing the best patient care they can.”

The goal is quality patient care but the I-Team has discovered when 911 is dialed in some communities patient safety may be on the line.

Phil Ethier, State Inspector:
“What we look for are any deficiencies that could effect life or safety of patients, crews or the general public.”

And that’s what state inspector Phil Ethier and his crew found while making the rounds at several emergency care providers across the state. The I-Team researched hundreds of 2005 inspection reports and complaints. When we looked into Northshore Ambulance in Salem we found what inspectors call a quote “service in crisis.” Trucks were littered with trash and dirt, dried brown fluid was spattered inside the patient area of one ambulance. Even more troubling, some life-saving drugs and equipment were outdated and trucks here were missing critical supplies including narcotics.

Abdullah Rehayem, OEMS:
“That’s very serious. If they don’t have these medications naturally that can impact patient care.”

Phil Ethier:
“When they expire they may have a totally different reaction to the patient.”

The compliance history at Northshore resembles a rollercoaster moving between poor and fair.

Kevin Federico, Northshore Ambulance:
“I can tell you we have a new management team in place and we’re going to end that rollercoaster ride from going from poor to fair and we’re going to make it excellent.”

At the Fall River Fire Department, more problems. Three of the five ambulances were pulled off the street during the state’s visit. Inspectors found contaminates on several spots inside. There was vomit in a suction cannister. Drugs were expired and stored at the wrong temperature.

Fall River was also cited for improper care of patients. According to state records, one paramedic gave a patient with heart problems the wrong medication. In another case drugs were administered that weren’t even needed.

Chief David Thiboutot, Fall River Fire:
“We’re doing everything we can to correct that mistake.”

Chief David Thiboutot admits mistakes were made. He says his crews were scrambling to keep up due to an increase in the number of calls.

Kathy Curran:
“You believe you grew too big too fast”?
Chief David Thiboutot:
“In a few words I believe that’s the majority of the problems here.”

Overall the state’s largest ambulance service provider, American Medical Response (AMR,) passes the state’s inspection but the I-Team discovered trouble spots at their Natick, New Bedford and Northampton bases. In Natick, inspectors said the bar is set very low. Sanitary conditions were very poor. They were also investigated for improper patient care.

EMT’s were reprimanded for not checking a patient’s vital signs before moving her from a hospital to a rehab. During the ride the patient went into cardiac arrest. The crew did CPR but never used a defibrillator and the patient died.

In New Bedford the state says AMR’s base is “deplorable and hazardous.” In Northampton it was a “disaster.” In an e-mail AMR officials tell the I-Team they’ve taken action to remedy the issues cited by the state.

Phil Ethier, Inspector:
“We certainly are the watchdog for the victim lying in the street.”

Here’s the end result. The state has given Northshore Ambulance and Fall River Fire Dept six months to turn things around. They both received provisional licenses. It’s Fall River’s second in a row. If you would like to check on an ambulance service in your area or file a complaint, you can call the State’s Office of Emergency Medical Services at (617)753-7300 or obtain a faxable complaint form online.” alt=”I-Team Uncovers Ambulance Violations” />© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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