The CBS-owned TV news station WCCO in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota reported this week that a woman being moved from one nursing home to another died while being transported on the 22nd of April because of a software problem in the ambulance's onboard oxygen system.
The story says that the Red WingFire Department paramedics placed the woman on oxygen at the start of the trip, and that the onboard oxygen system was operating normally. However, the oxygen system apparently stopped working for a period of some eight minutes before paramedics noticed it was off. The paramedics immediately restarted the system, but by that time, the woman had died.
After the incident, the Red Wing Fire Department "exchanged all of the electrical equipment, but weeks later the same thing happened with the new equipment," the WCCO story reports.
An independent investigation pointed to a software problem with the ambulance's oxygen system.
The fire department is now using portable oxygen until a fix from the ambulance company - Road Rescue - is provided. According to this other WCCO story, Road Rescue says a fix is imminent.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.