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Concerns over ‘faulty BP monitor’ in ambulance

Vacuum mattress suitability and response delays were also discussed by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) Quality and Safety Committee in the context of the paramedic’s correspondence regarding ambulance equipment.

PHECC wrote to the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) seeking a response to the paramedic’s concerns.

A spokesperson for the NAS told the Medical Independent (MI) that the issue regarding the blood pressure (BP) monitor related to “one unit on an ambulance”.

They outlined: “The issue related to a defibrillator/monitor and in particular to the blood pressure mechanism on the machine. There was no patient safety issue, as all vehicles have a manual BP recording capability on board too.”

The unit was removed for examination and the fault was identified “as operator error due to not making a proper lead connection”.  Notification was sent to personnel to highlight this issue to avoid recurrence of same, said the NAS spokesperson.

“NAS continuously and rigorously check and monitor the suitability of all equipment and have a process for reporting and escalating defects.”

With regard to vacuum mattress suitability, “no significant issues have been identified”.

The spokesperson added that the NAS “continuously operate in order to achieve the HIQA Response Time Targets”.

Speaking to MI in relation to the correspondence, PHECC’s Deputy Director/Registrar Mr Barry O’Sullivan said “it is a service provider issue and we contacted the National Ambulance Service and passed on the complaint to them”.

He said PHECC had received reassurance from NAS director Mr Martin Dunne that it was dealing with these matters.

“With respect to the equipment in ambulances, we haven’t yet developed a standard for that,” added Mr O’Sullivan. “We regulate the profession; and the vehicles we haven’t set the actual standard [for] other than the CEN standard applies.”

However, ambulances must be equipped with the required medications and equipment to allow practitioners to implement PHECC clinical practice guidelines, he said.

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