A man in England died of meningitis after being misdiagnosed with the flu and then waiting for an ambulance for six hours.
Mthuthuzeli Mpongwana reportedly waited for six hours after beginning to show symptoms for meningitis on Jan. 5, with his health deteriorating rapidly as time went on, reports Daily Mail. By the time an ambulance arrived, he was unresponsive.
“I called 111 (emergency services) because I could see he was bad, he couldn't stand being around lights at all. The caller said they would send a blue lights ambulance straight away because they thought it was serious,” Mpongwana’s wife, Lisa Armitage, told the Mirror.
“We then had to wait until 1.30 a.m. for one man in a car to arrive. At first he thought it was just the flu and called the GP out-of-hours for advice about whether he should admit him to hospital. He then called for an ambulance but it took until 4.30 a.m. for it to arrive. At the beginning my husband was talking and asking questions, by the time they arrived he was completely unresponsive."
According to reports, the wait was the result of a paramedic telling Armitage that her husband was suffering from “man flu,” and downgrading the priority of their call.
Two days after the horrific ordeal, Mpongwana was taken off life support and died soon after.
“I said I didn't want them to be stuck in a hotel corridor if it was flu or something like that,” the paramedic, Dana Noriega, said in defense of his actions. “I didn't use the term meningitis so as not to worry them.”
Armitage was left devastated by the death of her husband, who she called her “soulmate and best friend.”
The South Western Ambulance Service ultimately apologized for the wait, saying that it was a “very busy time.” An investigation into Mpongwana’s death is ongoing.