An investigation has been launched after a seriously ill patient fell from a trolley onto the tarmac during a medical airport transfer at a remote airstrip in WA’s Pilbara region.
It is understood the bungle occurred on December 6 as the Indigenous man, who is in his 40s, was being prepared to be flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to Perth to be treated for serious health issues.
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It is unclear how the man fell as he was wheeled towards a plane in the coastal town of Onslow, but he reportedly suffered head injuries in the incident.
He is currently in a critical but stable condition in Royal Perth Hospital and the RFDS is working with St John WA to investigate.
“Our thoughts are with the patient and his family at this very difficult time,” an RFDS spokesperson said.
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“As this matter is currently under investigation, the RFDS is unable to provide any further information at this stage.
“The safety and care of every RFDS patient is our highest priority.”
St John WA confirmed it was probing the incident but said any further detail may “pre-empt the findings of the investigation”.
“St John WA is supporting the family through the process,” a spokesperson said.
A patient has been injured during a medical transfer involving the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Credit: 7NEWS
On Thursday, WA Premier Roger Cook said “we want all patients” to be “looked after properly” during their transfer to a health facility.
“We rely upon the RFDS and St John WA to be part of that important patient journey, so obviously we’d like to get to the bottom of that particular issue.”
Cook was also asked if the two services should reveal more details about how the man was injured.
“I think it’s important that any aspects of the health system are fully accountable to the public and I’m sure they will investigate that issue,” he said.
The incident occurred just days after a WA grandmother with breathing difficulties was flown from Esperance to Perth only to be turned away from a hospital because there were no beds left for her.
Dianne Furniss, 77, fell ill on December 4, with local doctors booking her into Fiona Stanley Hospital.
On Tuesday, the RFDS flew her from Esperance to Perth, but by the time she arrived, the hospital had already given her promised bed to someone else.
She was put back on an RFDS aircraft and flown to Bunbury.
Speaking of the WA grandmother, Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson told 7NEWS that these sorts of situations “do happen”.
“Emergency care is exactly that, and things change minute by minute,” she said.
“My understanding is that Fiona Stanley had an emergency come through the door that needed that particular bed.”
Liberal leader Libby Mettam said it was a “ludicrous situation” to have a patient shuttled between three hospitals due to a lack of capacity.