Launceston General Hospital patient dies after being ramped for more than nine hours

The death of a woman in her 70s who was ramped and waiting to be admitted to a Tasmanian hospital’s emergency department for more than nine hours is “totally unacceptable” and shows the state’s health system is crumbling, a union says.

The union that represents paramedics in Tasmania said the woman was taken to the Launceston General Hospital about midnight on Friday night, and died at about 9am on Saturday.

“The patient had been ramped for nine hours at the time when they passed away, and they were still in an inappropriate setting and had not been allocated a bed at that time,” said Robbie Moore from the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU).

“This is a very sad situation that just demonstrates how bad our health system is, that we couldn’t have a bed available for a patient who clearly needed medical assistance, and shows that ambulance ramping is out of control and patients’ lives are being put at risk.”

Ambulance ramping happens when hospital emergency departments are full and cannot admit new patients.

Paramedics care for the patients they have transported in an area of the hospital outside of the emergency department.

Mr Moore said the patient received care from emergency department staff while they were waiting for an ED bed to become available, and was also cared for by ambulance paramedics.

“A patient being ramped for nine hours is totally unacceptable, and demonstrates that we are letting down the Tasmanian community,” he said.

“Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident … we’re unfortunately aware of several other incidents where patients have been unable to get a bed and passed away on the ramp.”

Nursing staff ‘distraught’ at conditions in LGH emergency department

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s Tasmanian secretary Emily Shepherd said on the night the woman was brought to the hospital, the LGH’s emergency department was full, with 20 patients waiting to be admitted to beds in other parts of the hospital, about 50 people in the ED waiting room, and seven ambulances ramped.

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