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911 caller gives correct address. Dispatcher doesn’t get it right. Patient dies.


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11/30/2010
Gerry Oginski
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That’s what happened November 14 when a frantic woman called 911 after her husband was gasping for breath in Wainscott on the East End of Long Island. The dispatcher failed to ask the caller for the nearest cross-street and also failed to recognize the address that popped up on the computer screen. Newsday reported today that since the emergency call was made from a landline, the caller’s address immediately showed up on the computer. The dispatcher ignored it.

Here’s where the problem arose:
That address, 419 Montauk Highway is the same address for four different adjacent towns on the East End of Long Island. Those four towns are Wainscott, East Hampton, Montauk and Amagansett.

A transcript of the conversation at 12:51 minutes into the call said “You killed my husband! You killed my husband! What’s your name? You sent the police to Amagansett. How dare you?

Another ambulance was dispatched once the error was recognized and arrived 13 minutes after the initial call.

Ok, here’s the dilemma from a legal standpoint:
There’s clearly a departure from good care here. There’s carelessness, also known as negligence. The key in this case would be whether this patient would have lived had an ambulance arrived there earlier. The patient, Lanny Ross, had a history of heart problems. There is a quote by the Village of East Hampton administrator Larry Cantwell who said that he didn’t believe the mistake contributed to Ross’ death. Now, how could he possibly know that?

If a wrongful death lawsuit were brought, the key element in such a case would be to prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that Mr. Ross would have survived had an ambulance arrived within an acceptable time limit. What’s acceptable? According to Cantwell, the goal is to arrive within 9 minutes of the call. Given Mr. Ross’s prior heart condition, his unfortunate outcome may have been the same regardless of when the ambulance arrived.

Often, in a case like this, a family will want to know whether an autopsy should be done to determine the cause of death. Autopsy results are a double-edged sword; they can help a potential case or they can hurt a case. The defense will argue that he would have died anyway. The family will argue that he lost the opportunity for timely life-saving efforts that would have prolonged his life. The defense would then argue that he would have had a limited life expectancy given his prior heart problems, especially since he was only 51 years old.

Regardless of what would have been, there’s no excuse for the dispatcher sending an ambulance to the wrong town. None.

*This date this happened has been changed from 'yesterday' to Nov. 14. Thanks to Taylor Vecsey, Editor at East Hampton Patch for pointing this out.*

Category: Wrongful Death

Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

2 Comments to "911 caller gives correct address. Dispatcher doesn’t get it right. Patient dies."

MY MOM JUST DIED THE SAME WAY DEC 15TH AMBULANCE SENT TO JUNE PLACE INSTEAD OF JUNE ST MY DAD GAVE CORRECT ADRESS DISPATCHER SENT THEM TO WRONG DIRECTION,MY DAD HAD TO HAVE MY MOMS FRIEND CALL A SECOND TIME WHILE HE GAVE HER CPR THEY SAY THEY ARRIVED IN 11 MINUTES Posted by GARY on January 8, 2011 at 09:14 AM
It happened on Nov. 14, not yesterday.

http://easthampton.patch.com/articles/address-mix-up-delays-ambulance-for-heart-attack-victim-in-wainscott

http://easthampton.patch.com/articles/help-took-13-minutes-to-get-to-lanny-ross-due-to-dispatching-address-mix-up
Posted by Taylor Vecsey on December 1, 2010 at 10:08 AM

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