Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The danger of typos

A  911 operator in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, whose typo sent paramedics to the wrong address for a call about a dying infant, was suspended from her job.

The typo resulted in paramedics taking an extra seven minutes to reach a three-week-old baby. She died an hour later. Autopsy results to determine a cause of death are awaiting lab tests. A medical examiner said no evidence indicates that the delayed response played a role in the baby's death.

The call-taker served a five-day suspension without pay and had 32 hours of remedial training. She had nine years of experience but failed to verify the address before and after it was sent to emergency dispatchers.

The operator initially entered the right address into the computer system, but missed a keystroke when she added an apartment number--causing the computer to change the name of the street. Union officials called a suspension premature and unwarranted.
County officials are still trying to resolve the computer problem and nobody knows yet why the typo led the computer to change the street name. (info from

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