Auditor general John Doyle has warned that the provincial air ambulance service in British Columbia, Canada, may be putting its patients at risk.
Doyle’s report alleges that the air ambulance provider lacks sufficient monitoring and clear goals.
Ambulance dispatch decisions are often inadequately reviewed, the auditor claims. It goes on to surmise that the service does not fully assess whether dispatched flight paramedics are in the best locations to meet air ambulance patient needs.
Other concerns revolve around sufficient procedures in place for reporting as well as addressing patient safety issues.
Extrapolating the information in Doyle’s report, the main argument seems to be that the British Columbia air ambulance service should be (and should have been) monitoring and analyzing data in order to improve performance and safety.
Video: BC Auditor General Air Ambulance Report Summary
Ultimately, the report makes three recommendations for the B.C. air ambulance: to better manage performance, periodic reviews of staff distribution and aircraft, and creating samples of air ambulance dispatches.
One of the more specific and surprising claims is that pairs of less-skilled flight paramedics have, occasionally, been dispatched to emergencies in pairs when higher skilled flight paramedics were not available for the flight.
The idea that two flight medics with less skill could “make up” for the absence of a flight medic with more experience, knowledge, and overall skill seems, indeed, a bit fishy.
Not to worry, however: the air ambulance in British Columbia plans to instill some big changes in its service in the near future. Its personnel are, in the words of the service’s COO, “committed to providing quality, timely and safe patient care.”
Immediately after the report was complete, the service began taking steps to address Doyle’s concerns.
We highly recommend watching the video report above, as these are concerns and “tips” that all air ambulance operators in all countries should be aware of and learn from in order to improve service performance and above all ensure the best patient care and patient/crew safety.