Matthews welcomes Ontario coroner review into ORNGE patients' deaths
London Community News
By Rob Ferguson
Ontario’s chief coroner has launched a review into the deaths of patients at the scandal-plagued ORNGE air ambulance service, eight months after the Toronto Star first exposed concerns.
Dr. Andrew McCallum said he is naming an expert panel to conduct the review of how ORNGE’s handling of patients — and whether it could get to accident scenes on time — “materially affected” the survival rates of patients in question.
The dramatic move follows a previous review that found no problems, but an additional look is appropriate given new deaths that have come to light, the coroner said in a statement.
The exact number of deaths to be reviewed has not been determined but covers a six-year period.
“The aim of the review will be to learn from the circumstances of these deaths in order to make recommendations, if appropriate, to ensure that the best possible care is provided by our air ambulance service,” McCallum added in the statement.
“A systematic approach has now been developed to identify all known details from Jan. 1, 2006, to June 30, 2012, where there are relevant concerns.”
The review is the latest black eye for ORNGE, which is also the subject of a criminal investigation for questionable financial dealings and other matters.
Health Minister Deb Matthews, who has been under opposition fire over troubles at ORNGE and came under heavy criticism at legislative committee hearings this summer, said she welcomes the review.
“Nothing is more important than patient safety,” said Matthews, insisting ORNGE has hired more pilots and paramedics and improved procedures for response times.
A spokesperson for ORNGE issued a statement Wednesday saying the air ambulance service supports the review and will cooperate with request for information.
- Torstar News Service