Tuesday 23 July 2019

Doctor queried disabled man's care before death

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

A DOCTOR working for the controversial Leas Cross nursing home expressed concern about its ability to care for a disabled man who died shortly afterwards.

The detail has emerged in the independent report into the death of Peter McKenna (60) a Down's Syndrome sufferer who had developed Alzheimer's disease.

The report given to Mr McKenna's family last week and published today by the Health Service Executive highlighted how St Michael's House - which could no longer care for him - had emphasised the need for round-the-clock nursing care.

However, a day after his transfer to the nursing home on October 11, 2000, its medical officer noted it "could be difficult to manage in this establishment".

The report said Mr McKenna was alone in an upstairs bedroom with one nurse on night duty.

"There was a push button call system in the room should he have needed to summon assistance."

However, the report said "this call system was of no use to him because of his incapacity to use it. This was not a description of a unit with the means to provide high support care with nursing input in a unit that is specialised and geared towards the care of people with this disease."

The controversial report, by former head of the blood transfusion service, Martin Hynes, has been described as flawed by St Michael's House which disputed a range of facts.

Mr McKenna, who suffered from a urinary tract infection, died of septicaemia after being admitted to Beaumont Hospital 13 days after his transfer to the home. The report said it would have been reasonable that Mr McKenna would have been seen by a doctor at Leas Cross before transfer to hospital but this did not happen.

Aidan Browne, national director of primary community and continuing care with the HSE, said it was clear from the Hynes report that there were still issues remaining for the family of Mr McKenna, who had objected to the transfer.

"This is hugely regrettable, considering the time elapsed since Peter's death, considering the family's patience in awaiting the final report, and due to the amount of work done in the preparation of the final report."

St Michael's House said it had acted at all times in the best interests of Mr McKenna. As Mr McKenna was a ward of court, the ultimate decision on his transfer to Leas Cross was made by the High Court.

The executive summary by the HSE said it was not possible to align the conclusions of the report with all the comments received from St Michael's House.

It recommended an integrated complaints procedure should be set up within the health service to ensure complaints coming from a number of sources could be linked and dealt with effectively.

The HSE said yesterday that it was acting on the recommendations, including developing a national system.

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