Sunday 26 May 2019

'I knew I was in trouble ' - Senator calls for new rules after bathtub fall left him hospitalised with serious injuries

Senator Ned O’Sullivan
Senator Ned O’Sullivan
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A Fianna Fáil senator has opened up about his experience of a serious fall in a bathtub.

Senator Ned O'Sullivan is calling for the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to tackle the problem of old-fashioned bath-shower combos in hotels and B&Bs.

The senator spent a month in hospital following his fall three years ago, and said he is now speaking out in a bid to bring some safety criteria to bathroom fittings.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Senator O'Sullivan described his fall as "helpless".

He suffered a fractured sternum, 13 broken ribs, a punctured left lung and lost the use of the lower lobe of his left lung in the incident. He said he was unconscious for a short time following the fall, and spent a month recovering in hospital.

"I was at a hotel for the weekend with my wife," Senator O'Sullivan said.

"I went to take a shower, and climbed into the bath which had a shower attachment.

"The bath was very high and narrow. I slipped badly, it was a helpless fall, I sustained very serious injuries including a fractured sternum, my chest bone and I broke 13 ribs, many of them multi-fractured.

"I punctured my left lung and lost the use of my lower lobe of my left lung. I fell backwards, I had my back to the shower head attempting not to slip," he continued.

"I knew I was in trouble the minute I got in. There was no non-slip surface or mat.

"I grabbed the curtain and brought it down with me, it was a helpless fall."

Senator Ned O'Sullivan said he fell back on an old-fashioned mixer tap.

"If I hit my head I wouldn't be talking to you, I hit between my shoulder blades," he said.

"My wife was out of the hotel, I know I was unconscious for a little period. She came back from shopping and found me, I wasn't able to breathe. I was in a bad way. She alerted and called the services."

The senator was rushed to the nearest hospital, and was then transferred to Cork.

He started his treatment in intensive care and was on a respirator for a period as wel.

"There was a lot of work done to try and save the lung," he said.

"There was a lot of pain involved. I spent a month in hospital and two months in recuperation."

Senator O'Sullivan said he is now raising the issue as he didn't want to be seen speaking about it "as a live issue, as part of a compensation claim".

"I didn't pursue a claim," he said.

"I was conscious of that. So I chose not to speak about it. Now the time period is up and I am in the clear to speak."

When asked why he didn't wish to pursue with a claim, the Senator said he "didn't want to be seen setting an example".

"I'm in public life," he added.

"I was approached by lots of people about it. When I spoke in the Seanad last week, I received a high number of mails, phonecalls, texts, it was unbelievable."

He said a large number of elderly people shared their similar experiences with him.

"Old baths are narrow and deep and that's not what you want when you're having a shower," he said.

"I do think hoteliers in the future, if they're doing a new build or a major refurbishment, should have walk-in showers."

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