Consultant compares conditions in top hospital to torture: 'Nobody of any age should be subjected to this inhumanity'
Published 04/11/2015 | 02:30
A 91-year-old man with advanced Parkinson's disease had to endure 29 hours on a hospital trolley in a severely congested emergency department while surrounded by noise and light "torture".
His wife, also 91, spent more than seven hours in the same emergency department before finally getting a bed.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar has now been alerted to the latest incidents in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin by a concerned and angry doctor.
Tallaght Hospital emergency consultant Dr James Gray, in a strongly worded memo to the minister and senior health managers, described the failures as "grave and dangerous".
And he said bluntly: "It is only a matter of time before we disclose our next crowding- related death at Tallaght Hospital while crowding is tolerated."
The memo, which has been seen by the Irish Independent, revealed how at 10.11pm on Monday there were 79 patients in the department, 19 of whom were waiting for a bed.
Dr Gray's memo said: "Two of these unfortunate patients were in the department for greater than two days. Another four were admitted boarders in the department for greater than 24 hours. Earlier in the day, a 91-year-old man had been boarded for one day and five hours. That's right, 29 hours.
"I reviewed him this afternoon and he told me how painful and sore he was from lying on the trolley. He has advanced Parkinson's... I saw him on a trolley between the psychiatric rooms and some cubicles.
"Married to his beloved wife for 59 years, he told me. Shortly after, we learned that his wife, also in her 90s... had also been referred for admission. She is now also boarding and has been in the department seven hours at the time of writing.
"This elderly man is an example of how a dysfunctional system disgracefully treats some of our senior citizens, among the most vulnerable in our society, who are allowed to fester on a trolley.
"This man had... no privacy, no dignity," wrote Dr Gray, adding that the man was "subjected to constant noise torture, constant light torture, resulting in major sleep deprivation."
"Nobody of any age should be subjected to this inhumanity."
Tallaght Hospital said it cannot comment on individual patients' cases, but acknowledged there was a "delay in admitting elderly patients...for which we unreservedly apologise".
"While the delays are undesirable there were no critical or clinical incidents reported in the Emergency Department this week arising from delays in allocating ward beds," it added.
Nurses begin balloting next week for industrial action in protest at A&E conditions.