WATERLOO, Canada — A damning report says local paramedics failed to consistently follow patient-care standards and led to the departure of three staff members, including the director.
But authorities stress they have no evidence of any patient being harmed as a result of paramedics failing to follow regulations.
"There is no evidence of harm, but we can't be 100 per cent sure of that. We only know what we have the evidence for," Dr. Liana Nolan, regional medical officer of health told reporters Friday.
The report led to 26 of Waterloo Region's 171 paramedics being disciplined, including the firing of two and the departure of ambulance chief John Prno. The ambulance service is administered by the region.
A provincial ministry review of 562 of the highest level of emergency ambulance calls from January to August of last year found that in many cases paramedics failed to administer oxygen when required by patients' condition, failed to do spinal immobilization and failed to follow other procedures.
Officials said paramedics were lax in documenting patient care, such as not noting a patient's vital signs or reasons for walking a patient to a stretcher. False information was also documented on more than half of the ambulance calls.
"The bottom line is the paramedics were exercising discretion when they shouldn't have" and no one was saying this was wrong, Nolan said.
"They weren't intentionally trying to harm people," she said.
Nolan said the problem came to light last July when an ambulance supervisor noticed an ambulance on a Code 4 - the most serious and urgent emergency call - drive through an intersection without activating lights and sirens, which is required under both the Ambulance Act and Highway Traffic Act.
An internal investigation was immediately launched and what it revealed was a broader problem and the Ministry of Health was contacted, Nolan said.
"We have taken this very seriously," she said.
About 15 per cent of the department's unionized paramedics were disciplined, including eight who were given written notices, 16 suspended and two fired.
Full article: http://www.ems1.com/ems-management/articles/1428888-26-Canada-medics-disciplined-after-review/