A TIP (pediatric inter-hospital transport ambulance) was not available to respond to Friday's emergency in Portimão
A TIP (pediatric inter-hospital transport ambulance) was not available to respond to Friday's emergency in Portimão

Baby, 11 months, dies after waiting six hours for transfer from Portimão Hospital

Syndicate accuses INEM of not having actioned suitable emergency transport in time

An 11-month-old baby in a critical condition died in Portimão hospital on Friday, after waiting six hours to be transported to a pediatrics intensive care unit.

Reports from Lusa news agency explain that the INEM pediatric inter-hospital transport ambulance (TIP) that technically should have been able to pick the infant up from Portimão Hospital and deliver him to a pediatric intensive care unit was “inoperable due to the lack of a doctor”.

An alternative TIP – attached to Lisbon – was “ occupied in another mission of medical emergency”.

The decision was made to airlift the baby by helicopter to Faro to ensure that he was stablised ahead of an eventual transfer to Hospital de Santa Cruz, in Lisbon, but as this solution was underway – with the baby in transit to Loulé, where the helicopter was waiting for him – the child’s condition worsened, involving a return to Portimão hospital where he later died, explains Correio da Manhã.

According to local reports, in all six hours passed between the initial request for pediatric inter-hospital transport at 2.18pm, and the child’s death.

A note issued by INEM has stressed “the efforts of professionals from Portimão hospital and the institute (…) INEM deeply regrets the outcome, and addresses sincere and heartfelt condolences to the baby’s family”.

The child’s parents have received psychological accompaniment, from the hospital. But STEPH, the union of pre-hospital emergency technicians, has amplified the tragedy by accusing INEM of “mobilising inadequate means”.

Says SIC Notícias, the union believes that activating a helicopter with a conventional medical team (not one specialising in pediatric emergencies) “decreased the chances of the baby’s survival”.

CHUA, the Algarve university hospital board “guarantees that everything was done” to avoid the child’s death.

So far, there is no reference in any reports to an inquiry being held.

Roque da Cunha, president of the Independent Syndicate of Doctors has told Correio da Manhã that in his opinion, there is “urgent need for a rigorous inquiry” because “there were various circumstances” involved, in a situation that is “very serious”.

The baby’s health emergency appears to have been triggered by a form of pericarditis. Says CM: “The baby was the victim of fluid accumulation between the membranes surrounding the heart, known as pericardia. Due to the limited space, the accumulation of fluid causes increased cardiac pressure and possible tamponade” (pericardial tamponade being a situation that can rapidly progress to circulatory shock and even cardiac arrest).

The paper also refers to the child having been of “foreign nationality”.

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