Cause of Death Revealed for Man Who Died Waiting for Ambulance

By 21 August 2018

ZAGREB, August 21, 2018 - The cause of death of 21-year-old Matteo Ružić, who died in the street last week in Zaprešić, just north of Zagreb, was asthmatic bronchitis and an undiagnosed heart defect, officials of the Ministry of Health reported on Monday presenting the results of an autopsy conducted by the Zagreb-based Institute for Forensics and Criminology.

The emergency medical service system did not fail in this case nor was there any fault in the procedure, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić told a press conference while presenting the autopsy report following the tragic death on 12 August of the young man who died in the street while waiting for an ambulance.

Asked about his responsibility as minister, Kujundžić underscored that as a man of morals currently responsible for the health system, he had said from the first day that he would resign if it was established that the system had failed. "Now we have confirmation that the system functioned and secondly, it has been established that sudden death occurred," Kujundžić added.

"There are no sudden deaths caused by asthma, notably in young people, and some other underlying disease, most often a heart condition, is usually the cause, which unfortunately is what happened to Matteo Ružić," said Kujundžić.

The head of the Croatian Institute for Emergency Medicine (HZHM) Maja Grba Bujević spoke about the course of events in the case, saying that an emergency call was made at 5.25 pm and that the only available emergency team in Zaprešić, which did not include a physician, arrived at the scene at 5.30 pm. It found at the scene an unconscious person with no pulse and a nurse who, as a passer-by, was trying to do a heart massage on the patient with the help of other passers-by.

The emergency medical team then took over the heart massage, giving the young man oxygen and intubating him.

Another team, which included a doctor and was returning from an intervention in Jasterbarsko and was in Zagreb's neighbourhood of Trešnjevka, was contacted and it arrived at the scene at 5.54 pm, 27.5 minutes later, and it continued with the resuscitation.

The young man was pronounced dead at 6.22 pm, after resuscitation attempts failed, but his death occurred within a few minutes. The report by the team that included a doctor says that the patient was cyanotic, which is a sign of heart failure, and was not breathing, which means that his heart was not beating, said Grba Bujević.

Kujundžić said that the national system of emergency medicine functioned at an enviable level and was in the middle of EU rankings, but that improvements were necessary and were being worked on. He said that the number of emergency medical teams would be increased through additional training for nurses so that they could deal with emergency situations and the introduction of paramedics.

The minister also said that he would take steps against individuals who had alarmed the public regarding the case and that he would say more about the matter on Tuesday.