A patient who relied on oxygen allegedly ended up on an ambulance that ran out.
70 year old Richard Hall died on March 14th, 2014—the day after he made a trying trip from a hospital in Mishawaka to a facility near Chicago.
Family members spoke to NewsCenter 16 in the hopes that something like this would never happen again.
“How can you be a lack of oxygen if they’re supplying it?” How can you not have it?” asked widow Dona Hall.
The family has filed a complaint against Prompt Medical Transportation with the Indiana agency that regulates ambulances. The complaint alleges that the ambulance had to stop en route to obtain more oxygen and that the stop added some 45 minutes to the trip.
“An ambulance that was known to be traveling for at least two hours from Mishawaka to Chicago area did not have enough oxygen to get it past LaPorte,” said attorney Peter J. Agostino.
Richard Hall’s open heart surgery was followed by a 25 day stay in the I.C.U. at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center before a decision was made to transfer him to Loyola.
Richard Hall’s wife of 48 years, Dona, seldom left his side and the ambulance ride would be no exception.
“They said okay we're going to take him and you can ride with us, so I got in the front seat and we started off and we got on the toll road.”
It was near the LaPorte exit that Dona was shocked to hear the driver being told to take the next exit because they needed oxygen.
“Can you imagine being on life support? This means nothing that you're doing is keeping you alive. The machines are, and they did it, so that they could let his lungs to heal, and then you decide not to give him oxygen? How can you say you did not kill my husband? asked Dona Hall.
Hall said that before the stop for oxygen, the ambulance had been running without its lights and sirens, but after the stop, the lights and sirens were activated.
“For goodness sake, his major problem was respiratory,” said Richard Hall’s daughter Dalona Daggy. “Oxygen is, that’s just not something you should have to think about. Of course they’re going to have oxygen.”
While Richard Hall did arrive alive at Loyola, doctors there had immediate concerns. “They didn’t know what happened, they had no idea what happened on that ambulance and they told us he (Richard) had been oxygen deprived and that if he had another heart attack did we want him brought back because he’d probably be brain dead,” said Dona Hall.
Richard Hall died shortly before 10:00 a.m. on March 14th, 2014, the day after his transfer. “There’s 36 pages of regulations that apply to EMS in Indiana, and they’re very clear that they’re supposed to have a 3,000 liter oxygen tank on an ambulance for transport and so far, none of the information we received shows that anyone took the time to make sure that that ambulance had that on board,” said Agostino.
Richard Hall worked at Bendix for 30 years before he retired. He then began volunteering with the St. Joseph County Chapter of the Red Cross. Hall made three trips to help in recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
Nine years ago, Richard and Dona Hall adopted their fifth child—who is now 9 years old.
Hall's open heart surgery was followed by a 25 day stay in the ICU of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in MIshawaka after an unexpected respiratory problem popped up. On the 25th day, Hall was transferred to Loyola.