Sunday 20 August 2017

Elderly woman (72) 'kicked and punched' during violent attack in her hospital bed

The woman was recovering from a serious operation at the time of the attack

Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

A criminal investigation has been launched after an elderly woman, recovering from a serious operation, was punched and kicked by a violent patient who attempted to drag her out of her hospital bed.

The 72-year-old victim’s recovery was set back by over a week after she was assaulted in University Hospital Limerick over Easter weekend.

Her family say she continues to suffer nightmares and flashbacks.

Local TD Willie O’Dea has now written to the hospital demanding an explanation for the incident. Gardaí confirmed they are investigating the alleged attack.

Speaking to Independent.ie, the victim’s husband said she was recovering in a female-only ward at the hospital after undergoing liver and kidney surgery just two days earlier.

The grandmother, from Caherdavin in Limerick, was given up to 10 blood transfusions during the surgery.

“It was 11.40pm and she was asleep after taking all her medication. She was in a ward, cordoned off with a curtain. The next thing she heard this fellow say ‘get up out of bed, get up out of bed’.

“He started digging her and trying to pull the bed covers off her. She was scrambling onto her left side, the one she had the operation on, to get away from him. She was grabbing onto the rail on the side of the bed but he continued to punch her with closed fists.

“He was kicking her as well,” he said.

“Her legs, bottom, ribs, face...He was digging her like you would see a lad hitting a punchbag in a boxing club.”

Eventually a female patient who was in the room alongside the victim raised the alarm and managed to bring the attacker out of the ward.

The victim’s family say her suspected attacker had earlier been removed from a male-only ward and moved to a safe location after causing trouble.

They have questioned why he was subsequently permitted to return to the main hospital area where the attack took place.

Gardaí were called to UHL in the early hours of Easter Sunday morning but the grandmother was too frightened to make a statement. She is scheduled to speak with gardaí this evening.

Her husband said he arrived at the hospital shortly after the attack.

“The minute I got there, all I wanted to do was just wrap her up and bring her home. The doctor said she was too sick to go home, so we stayed by her bedside until she was well enough.”

Almost two weeks on from the incident, her husband says she is still bruised and is still traumatised.

“She’s terrified to let anybody come in the front door that she doesn’t know. She has an appointment with her doctor next week and she is very nervous about that.

“She is waking up from her sleep agitated and anxious because she thinks it is happening all over again.”

He claimed his wife has not been offered counselling by the hospital staff and the administrative team didn’t “have the decency to come down to see how she was doing”.

Willie O’Dea said he was furious with the authorities for allowing this to happen.

“I have sent a sharpish email to the CEO in Limerick here and I asked him to give an explanation as to why it happened.

He added: “I expect a response and I expect a rational explanation.

“It displays a gross disrespect towards patients and I would be very concerned.

A garda spokesman said: “Gardaí are investigating an alleged assault at University Hospital Limerick.”

In a statement University Hospital Limerick said they were aware of the alleged incident.

"UL Hospitals Group is aware of an incident involving a patient which took place Saturday evening last (15th April 2017) in a ward in University Hospital Limerick. UL Hospital Group recognises the upset the incident caused the patient and has offered its apologies to the patient and their family. The incident is under review however UL Hospitals Group is unable to provide any further information in order to protect patient confidentiality."

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