Tuesday 12 December 2017

Father-of-five died on a CUH trolley as he waited for bed

Coroner Philip Comyn returned a verdict of death due to natural causes (Stock photo)
Coroner Philip Comyn returned a verdict of death due to natural causes (Stock photo)
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A father-of-five died on a hospital trolley in a busy emergency department 10 hours after being admitted with severe chest pains.

James 'Jimmy' Holland (79) was being kept in the department at Cork University Hospital (CUH) overnight because there was no bed available in the specialist cardiology unit.

Mr Holland, of Glyntown, Glanmire, Co Cork, was on a cardiac monitor in the emergency department but its alarm never sounded because he had suffered a type of cardiac incident that cannot be detected by such equipment.

In CUH's emergency department, nursing staff are dependent on such audio alarms from cardiac monitors.

When nursing staff did a routine check on Mr Holland at 12.45am on April 11, he was unresponsive.

He had been fine when checked at 12.10am.

While he apparently still had a cardiac electrical read, his heart had stopped pumping blood around his body.

Despite efforts to revive Mr Holland, he was pronounced dead at 1.24am.

In the specialist cardiology unit, the feeds from all such monitors are constantly checked by a cardiology nurse.

CUH cardiologist Dr Ronan Curtin said Mr Holland had apparently suffered a Pulseless Electrical Activity (PEA) arrest.

"There is no technology that can monitor for a PEA arrest," he said. "This type of cardiac arrest won't be detected by a monitor of any description."

Pensioner Mr Holland had awoken at 1am on April 10 last with severe chest pain.

He went to a GP service and they referred him to CUH.

Mr Holland went to CUH's emergency department at 3.22pm and was placed on a trolley.

He was formally admitted to CUH at 8.30pm and placed in a cubicle in the emergency department because there was no bed available in the cardiology unit.

An angiogram was planned for the following day.


Doctors stressed that Mr Holland did not show any of the symptoms of requiring an emergency angiogram.

"He was a priority patient. He was awaiting a cardiology bed," Dr Heather Cronin said.

Another attending doctor, Dr Susan Harkin, said she cannot recall if CUH was busier than normal that night.

"The emergency department in CUH is generally very busy," she said.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster found that Mr Holland suffered a sudden cardiac death due to coronary heart disease and a thrombosis against a background of lung and renal problems.

Coroner Philip Comyn returned a verdict of death due to natural causes.

Irish Independent

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