Tragic Death Shows Chaos in Croatia’s Health System

Total Croatia News

Due to a small number of emergency medicine teams, a young man died in Zaprešić.

Matteo Ružić, a 22-year-old man from Zaprešić, will be buried later today. He died on Sunday on a street in his town because the local emergency medicine department did not have a physician to send to the scene of the incident.

The man fell ill on Sunday afternoon, and he was aided first by Damir Pungartnik, as well as a nurse who happened to be nearby and other passers-by.

According to witnesses, the first ambulance arrived at the scene more than 12 minutes later, although its offices are located just 600 metres away. Even worse, the emergency medicine team did not include a physician, just a nurse, and a driver. Pungartnik told reporters that the ambulance did not have a defibrillator. Almost half an hour later, another ambulance arrived from Jastrebarsko. According to unofficial information, the only physician on duty was at the time attending to another patient.

“Who decides that a town of 30,000 people will have just one physician on standby? Primary health care and emergency medicine are the most important part of the healthcare system. Tell me, how much is a life of a child worth? I know their answer: ‘There is no price.’ But it seems there is a price. You have set it: 15,000 kuna, one salary. Please, tell me how much is your child’s life worth? That is my question. If you needed an emergency medical team, there would be four planes and three helicopters at the scene. Do not tell me that my child is worth 15,000 kuna, and that your child is worth all that,” said Pungartnik.

The authorities have started blaming each other for the fact that such a large town has just one physician on standby.

“These days, there is a lot of criticism focused on the emergency medicine department. But, we have done everything according to the medical rules, and have done everything we could to save a life,” said Davorin Gajnik, the director of the Emergency Medicine Department of Zagreb County.

He explained that seven towns in Zagreb County have just one team each. “The team which initially came to the site was a transportation team which was not obliged to go there at all, but they tried to help. The vehicle was equipped with all the necessary equipment, but no signs of life were found on arrival,” he said.

“We cannot change the emergency team network that the minister has announced. We are aware of the problem, the county is aware of the problem, but we cannot do what we can’t. We cannot change the network,” he remarked.

The Ministry of Health announced that the Emergency Medicine Department of Zagreb County has had 45 teams consisting of a doctor, a nurse and a driver since 2016 when additional teams were last requested. Since 2016, no new requests were issued for additional teams.

Mayor of Zaprešić Željko Turk said the town authorities did everything right. “The law was changed in 2011 and it determines how many teams there are in a particular area,” Turk said. “We have one physician during the day and two during the night, which is not enough.”

Asked what the town could do, he said that they could not do anything because the emergency medicine system is not part of the town’s authority, adding that he hoped something would change now since it is clear that the law is not functioning and should be changed.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment