Wednesday 16 August 2017

Hospital forced to isolate contagious patients with curtains as overcrowding continues

A Dublin hospital today
A Dublin hospital today
A Dublin hospital today
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Contagious patients requiring isolation were instead ‘isolated’ in cubicles with just curtains as Tallaght Emergency Department dealt with yet another day of overcrowding today.

Dr Jim Grey, who likened the effects of the trolley crisis on patients as akin to “torture”, said nine patients had presented to Tallaght Hospital today needing for various reasons, including the winter vomiting bug.

“We’ve got people being isolated with curtains... that’s a great concern for patients and staff and it really shouldn’t be happening in a first world

“They have no dignity, no privacy, there is a complete lack of confidentiality. They are being subjected to constant noise and light, it’s a form of sensory torture,” he said.

“I had a patient who was in an emergency department for three days recently. You can’t sleep in an emergency department. It’s a disgrace. It’s an ongoing national scandal,” he said.

“It’s been an emergency that’s been going on for many, many years. t’s all very predictable."

Dr Grey dismissed the idea that the flu is behind the overcrowding in hospitals. 

“In the last three years alone the first Tuesday of every January we’ve had a massive trolley problem,” he said.

Spin

“The admission rate from influenza is small it’s not causing the trolley problem. Trolley patients are admitted patients for whom there are no beds.

“There is a bit of spin there in relation to the flu being a part of the trolley crisis, it’s not,” he said.

Dr Grey said that increasing capacity and staffing levels are among the solutions to the ongoing overcrowding problem which has become a “year-long crisis”.

Independent.ie visited the A and E department in the busy Dublin hospital today and observed a number of people in trolleys.

At least four people on trolleys in one area in A and E, near a busy nurses station.

One woman was on a trolley right beside the nurses station, raising concerns about patient confidentiality.

Another woman was served a lunch including  sandwich on her trolley.

All waiting areas were very busy, with the main waiting room in A and E filling up by mid-afternoon.

A patient who had just been discharged said he had been on a ward with a woman who had been on a trolley in the corridor, protected only by a curtain.

The woman had been there since Saturday he claimed.

Patients in the A and E department reported varying waiting times.

One patient had been seen by one doctor in less than an hour.

Another woman waiting with a family member was told it would be between six and eight hours.

“That’s good, usually it’s a lot longer,” she said.

She also raised concerns about waiting in A and E with people who may be contagious without realising it for so long.

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