Faro Hospital (Photo: Sara Alves)

Faro Hospital refuses to attend child in full throes of asthmatic crisis

Incident happened when Faro’s pediatric A&E was ‘closed’

Faro Hospital refused to attend a child in the full throes of an asthmatic crisis earlier this month.

The situation, only made public now, has caused the hospital to put guidance for situations like this into writing, admitting the little girl should have been offered treatment by the regular A&E service.

As it was, the frantic mother of nine-year-old Clara was told she had to transport her daughter – either in her own vehicle, or via INEM ambulance – to Portimão (where pediatic A&E services were functioning).

Mother Vera has told SIC television news that effectively her daughter was refused treatment at a public hospital. She feels the whole situation was dealt with poorly.

When Vera was first told to take her daughter to Portimão, she telephoned INEM to hear the operative on the line tell her she was in a hospital, she should seek treatment there. It was not INEM’s job to take the child 71 kms to another hospital simply because there were no pediatricians available. She relayed this information to the hospital admissions desk – but still the hospital refused to take her daughter.

In the end, INEM did turn up to transport Clara – but as the child was much too unstable to survive the hour-long journey. The ambulance stopped at Loulé health centre, which was operating as an emergency unit – and there she was stabilised, four hours later, by regular doctors.

In other words, regular doctors in Loulé treated Clara – but regular doctors in Faro would not.

“This really was an urgent situation”, Carla’s mother told SIC. Clara “was not attended. It was very bad”.

It is not as if the child’s crisis was superficial. She had been three times admitted into hospital in recent months, and this time too she had to receive in-patient treatment in Portimão.

In response to questions from SIC, Faro’s hospital board has “admitted that it would have been sensible for the child to have been seen by regular A&E in Faro”.

As a result of this incident “and to avoid disparate interpretations”, the clinical director of the hospital published a set of written instructions for periods in which pediatric A&E services are closed.

“Among the written instructions, it is made clear that if accompanying adults insist on the child being attended, or the child’s situation appears serious, admission and triage should proceed”, says SIC.

The new rules state that only yellow, orange and red cases should be observed in regular A&E (children considered ‘green cases’ will still have to travel to the nearest available pediatric unit). As for those triaged with red bracelets , they must be attended immediately, including by intensive care.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com