A young child suspected of having a foreign body in the respiratory tract had to wait for over an hour to see a doctor at a health centre's emergency service.
Parliamentary Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen proposes that the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health Valvira should consider the need to develop clear national triage guidelines. The Parliamentary Ombudsman finds such guidelines vital in order to safeguard patient safety, patient equality and continuity of care.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman commented on the matter as a result of a complaint filed with him.
According to statements obtained by the Parliamentary Ombudsman from Valvira and its permanent expert, a young child suspected of having a foreign body in their throat or respiratory tract should be treated urgently. Even if the patient's status were good, it is possible that the body is inhaled deeper into the respiratory tract.
Triage refers to a preliminary assessment of how urgently care should be administered to a patient. The triage classification of the health centre did not have a rule stating that a suspected foreign body in the respiratory tract was a case needing urgent treatment.
Of Finnish triage classifications examined by Valvira's permanent expert, only the one applied in the Northern Karelia Central Hospital specifically refers to a suspected foreign body in the respiratory tract as belonging to urgency class A or B. The patient must be seen by a doctor within 10 minutes.
The full text of decision no 2704/4/13 (in Finnish).