Monday 1 May 2017

Patients dying in corridors as consultant warns of 'broken morale'

While overcrowding has stabilised in some of the worst Dublin hospitals it has escalated to critical levels in areas like Tullamore and Kilkenny (Stock photo)
While overcrowding has stabilised in some of the worst Dublin hospitals it has escalated to critical levels in areas like Tullamore and Kilkenny (Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Patients are dying in hospital corridors as the trolley crisis rages. The stark picture of dangerous overcrowding and misery, due to the trolley crisis, was laid bare by medics and patient groups at the Oireachtas health committee yesterday.

It includes frail and elderly people having to endure the indignity of queuing for one toilet with 20 others.

Emergency departments are so under pressure that patients' ECG exams of the heart are being done in public.

Other patients must shout out intimate details in a noisy corridor, consultant Dr Emily O'Conor revealed.

"You take a patient history on the corridor but there is no place to lie them for an abdominal exam. You circle the department for any spot to provide a bit of privacy. You find space but another patient takes it and you start again..."

Years of this kind of work "breaks morale", Dr O'Conor, president of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine warned.

Patient Focus said it was receiving harrowing reports of patients whose illness was misdiagnosed and one of a man "found dead on a hospital corridor" being used as a "virtual ward".

Other complaints include patients getting no proper food or enduring "forced incontinence" because no member of staff is available to take them to the toilet.

Committee members were told of the urgent need for more beds, more emergency consultants who can provide round-the-clock on-site cover and better community services.

While overcrowding has stabilised in some of the worst Dublin hospitals it has escalated to critical levels in areas such as Tullamore and Kilkenny.

Promised modular buildings where some patients could be cared for also need to be opened up.

Dr O'Conor said some nursing homes were sending elderly patients at the end-of-life stage to hospital when they should be allowed to pass away at the home.

It should be possible to give antibiotics in nursing homes to avoid hospital admission. She suggested doing surgery over seven days instead of five would relieve patient surges on Monday and Tuesday.

The practice of discharging patients over weekends, to free up space, had improved but it could be better, Dr O'Conor added.

Irish Independent

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