Hospital told to stop treating sick patients on corridors
Published 27/08/2011 | 05:00
ALL overcrowded emergency departments must be forced to stop moving ill patients on trolleys to hospital corridors, doctors warned yesterday.
It followed revelations that a patient safety watchdog has ordered the troubled Tallaght Hospital in Dublin to end the practice of caring for patients in corridors to ease congestion in its emergency department.
An unannounced inspection last week found a patient suffering from tuberculosis was not placed in isolation but instead was cared for in a room opening on to a corridor.
Patients were being cared for on trolleys along the corridor at the time of the inspection, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) revealed.
The use of corridors at Tallaght hospital must end from next Thursday, HIQA ordered.
But emergency consultants said the directive must be issued to other hospitals also.
Fergal Hickey, president of the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine, said around 350 patients were dying across the country every year because of chronic overcrowding in emergency units.
Twenty patients were on trolleys in the Tallaght emergency department corridor at the time of inspections. Five of them were waiting for a bed for more than 24 hours.
The emergency department is now facing a wider probe by HIQA which was called in to inspect safety after Dublin county coroner Kieran Geraghty said it "sounded like a very dangerous place".
He made the comments after hearing how a 65-year-old man died in a virtual ward -- which is actually a corridor -- at the hospital.
Derek Reilly, industrial relations officer with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, said he has written to management calling for 28 closed beds at the hospital to be opened urgently.
Another 63 beds could be freed up if patients no longer in need of hospital care could be discharged.
Tallaght hospital was forced to close beds to reduce its deficit. There are 1,900 beds closed in hospitals across the country due to budget cuts.