public healthcare in crisis

Vigo prosecutor to investigate negligence claims after senior’s ER death

Elderly woman left waiting for three hours despite having a known heart condition and diabetes

Patients in corridors in the Vigo University hospital last year.
Patients in corridors in the Vigo University hospital last year.lalo r. villar

The Vigo public prosecutor is to investigate the death of an elderly woman in the emergency room of the city's hospital after she was kept waiting three hours for medical assistance.

Galician premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo, of the Popular Party (PP), also said the regional government would seek to find out whether there was any negligence on the hospital's part.

The victim's niece told the local newspaper Faro de Vigo that her aunt died due to "lack of attention" after she was left in her wheelchair for three hours. When they realized what had happened, doctors quickly tried to revive her, to no avail.

The niece said she could not understand how medical workers could fail to quickly assist someone with her aunt's medical history, which includes a heart condition, emphysema and diabetes, and considering the state she was in at the time she went into the emergency room.

Where is this taking us? To people dying like dogs?"

The victim's family has not managed to obtain the medical report from the regional health services yet. One of the hospital workers came by to apologize after their relative's death, said the niece.

"Where is this taking us?" she told Faro de Vigo. "To people dying like dogs?"

Hospital director Silvia Rodríguez said the patient "did not show symptoms that suggested classifying her as an urgent or preferential patient" and that regular procedure was used. In these cases, anywhere between two and four hours of wait is considered normal.

Opposition parties linked the incident to public health spending cuts and noted that emergency services have not been reinforced despite an outbreak of flu, especially among the elderly.

According to information obtained by EL PAÍS, the average waiting time at the Vigo hospital is as long as 10-12 hours due to shortages of resources and personnel. Some 25,000 people are on waiting lists in Vigo’s public health system.

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