Ambulance rule 'put my pregnant wife at risk'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 June, 2012, 12:00am


An irate husband yesterday criticised inflexible emergency procedures after his pregnant wife was taken by ambulance to a public hospital with no maternity ward.

The husband said his wife risked losing the baby because of the 20 minutes she spent at Tseung Kwan O hospital before being transferred to the United Christian Hospital where she was booked for delivery.

Tam rang the emergency services on June 2 after his wife's water broke prematurely.

When the ambulancemen arrived they said they had to take her to the nearest hospital, which was Tseung Kwan O.

The couple insisted they go to the United Christian Hospital, but the ambulance crew refused.

'They did some meaningless checks [at Tseung Kwan O] and redirected us to United Christian Hospital, causing a delay of more than 20 minutes,' the husband said. 'I have nothing against the ambulancemen and hospital staff who did the best they could. It was a problem with the instructions they were given.'

His wife gave birth to a girl within an hour of arriving at the second hospital.

District councillor Christine Fong Lai-shan called on the Fire Services Department and Hospital Authority to review the policy and make it flexible for pregnant women. About 2,200 women from Tseung Kwan O gave birth in United Christian Hospital last year, she said.

Medical sector lawmaker Leung Ka-lau said the government had rigidly divided the city into districts and ambulancemen were instructed to send patients to the hospital closest to their home.

Whether the patient was a pregnant woman or not would not make any difference to the hospital she was sent to.

Leung said it was essential for authorities to add more criteria to ambulance guidelines.

'Guidelines are in place to instruct ambulancemen to send severely injured people to large hospitals, but not for any other categories such as pregnant women,' he said.

A Fire Services Department spokesman said sending a patient to a designated accident and emergency department as soon as possible was the best arrangement for the patient.