The incident which took place in March 2014 in Vienna came to light after parents Biljana Todorovic and Stanko Djuric spoke about their traumatic experience on the ORF programme Bürgeranwalt over the weekend.
They told the programme: “Our son could still be alive, if the medical radio service had recognised the fatal danger.”
When their son Raphael had developed an unusual rash and a high fever, they had called the medical radio service (Ärztefunkdienst) but were told that it would take a while before someone could come over and they should consider taking him to hospital if it got worse.
Concerned about long waiting times at the hospital, the parents decided to wait for the doctor but when Biljana called nearly an hour later and reported that her son was turning a blueish colour, the doctor allegedly became impatient.
Bijana Todorovic and Stanko Djuric, with a photo of their dead son. Photo: ORF screenshot
In a recording of the phone call, the doctor is heard saying: “We are on the way to you. You just have to have confidence in us and if you do not have it, then I'm sorry, we can not help you.”
They then threatened to cancel the request, saying that she should stop her child from crying down the phone and calm his father down.
After two hours, a doctor came but Raphael passed away from blood poisoning caused by a meningococcal infection a short while later.
Dad Stanko Djuric said: “He did not even look at me. He did not ask me, what about the child? He asked only after the E-Card. These two hours will never go out of our head.”
The telephone medical service say that they are very regretful of the incident and the “poor communication skills” from the service.
Mum Biljana said they decided to go public with their experience to prevent it from happening in the future. She added: “I'm not doing this to get money, it's about improving the system so that something like this can never happen again.”
Patient advocate Sigrid Pilz said: “Two doctors acted incorrectly, the doctors radio service should have immediately called an ambulance.”
Since the incident took place, the doctors involved were asked to leave the service and the process of taking medical calls was changed.