Tragic Death Prompts Calls for Health Minister’s Resignation

Total Croatia News

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ZAGREB, August 16, 2018 – A death of a 22-year-old man in Zaprešić this past Sunday, who passed away despite first aid from an ambulance staff, provoked strong reactions in the public and among the opposition that insist that the first aid system failed given that the ambulance team did not include a doctor.

Another ambulance arrived at the scene from the nearby town of Jastrebarsko, but it was too late. The young man, who fainted in the street died while first aid was being administered.

Currently, the Health Ministry is conducting an inspection and the findings are expected soon.

Following strong criticism from a part of the public and claims by passers-by that the first ambulance team that arrived at the scene consisted of only a nurse and a driver and that the ambulance had not been equipped adequately for the treatment of the patient, the head of the Emergency Service in Zagreb County Davorin Gajnik told Hina that the county’s Emergency Service had acted in line with the professional medical standards, and the ambulance concerned was properly equipped for providing first aid to patients.

Gajnik said that when the team came to administer first aid, “no signs of life were detected.” He, however, partly shifted the responsibility to the ministry, explaining that it was the minister who decided on the organisation of the network of emergency services.

Gajnik insisted the Zagreb County Emergency Service did all in compliance with the professional rules, however, it could not be held responsible for what was perceived as the insufficient number of teams.

The Emergency Health Services organisation system in Croatia is divided into two emergency teams, T1 and T2. The T1 team is made up of an emergency medicine specialist and a nurse or a technician. The T2 team is made up only of a nurse and a technician.

Following Matteo Ružić’s death in Zaprešić, some of the local inhabitants also criticised local authorities, and organised a protest walk in front of the town hall on Monday.

Mayor Željko Turk, therefore, issued a press release in which he extended condolences for Ružić’s demise, and expressed hope that that sad event would actually initiate necessary changes to upgrade the emergency service system. In his statement, he explained that the system must be completely overhauled, thus countering the suggestions that Zaprešić should have had one more emergency team.

Zagreb County Prefect Stjepan Kožić also warned that there was not the sufficient number of teams for the county whose population stands at 320,000.

The MOST party, an opposition parliamentary party, has been most vocal in recent days in requesting that Health Minister Milan Kujundžić must step down due to this incident.

Minister Kujundžić has explained that he should not be held accountable for the case. On Tuesday, he said that in 2016 the ministry improved the emergency service system in Zagreb County with the addition of 15 more teams, however, the tragic death of the young man also showed that more efforts had to be done to upgrade the whole system.

After the MOST party said that it would ask Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to dismiss the health minister, Plenković said on Tuesday that the ongoing inspection would establish the circumstances of the death of Matteo Ružić in Zapresic and another man in Jastrebarsko at the same time when local emergency service teams were being engaged.

Plenković extended condolences to the families of the deceased men. “According to preliminary report from the Emergency Medicine Institute, everything was done in line with regulations. We express our condolences to the family of the deceased,” the health ministry said in a press release.


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