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Heart attack victim diverted as no cardiologists rostered on at QEH


EXCLUSIVE | A heart attack patient was diverted from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital earlier this month because no cardiologists were rostered on at the hospital that day.

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InDaily understands that between the hours of 8am and 6pm on Thursday, October 10, no invasive cardiologists were rostered on at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a patient was having a heart attack and taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

A source familiar with the matter said paramedics were instructed to divert the patient from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, which are 7 kilometres apart.

A total of 10 out of the 11 invasive cardiologists employed by the Central Adelaide Local Health Network at the two hospitals were on leave or unavailable that day, the source said.

That meant only one was working at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, with none at the QEH.

An SA Health spokesperson did not dispute the account.

“A clinically appropriate decision was made on 10 October to treat the patient at the RAH, as the cardiologist on duty was attending to another emergency case at the RAH,” the spokesperson said.

“We are reviewing rosters to ensure best availability of interventional cardiologists at all times.”

The SA Health spokesperson did not respond to questions about which office or individual was responsible for the rostering error.

“Cardiology services are provided across CALHN and all decisions are made in the best interest of each patient,” the spokesperson added.

The incident has disturbing echoes of the rostering failure that preceded two stroke deaths in 2017.

Two men died after being admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in circumstances where two neuroradiologists, qualified to perform the required clot retrieval procedures, were unavailable.

A third stroke specialist was able to be brought in from outside the hospital on the day to perform the procedures.

A later coronial inquest found that the absence of the two specialists did not directly cause the patients’ deaths.

A report on the deaths in The Advertiser preceded SA Health’s decision to refer the patients’ deaths to the coroner.

ILL HEALTH: InDaily is publishing a series of investigative articles on the state of SA Health. Go here to follow the series.

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