Monday 23 September 2019

'Horrific': Man (80) spends two days on trolley after heart bypass

‘Terrible experience’: Mick Murtagh is back home after finally getting a bed at UHL following his blackouts. Photo: John Kelly
‘Terrible experience’: Mick Murtagh is back home after finally getting a bed at UHL following his blackouts. Photo: John Kelly

Dan Danaher

An 80-year-old local community activist has spoken about his "horrific" experience of spending more than two days on a trolley while he was recovering from a quadruple heart bypass.

Mick Murtagh (80), from O'Briensbridge, Co Clare, had five blackouts shortly after the All-Ireland senior hurling final. Three were at home and two in the ambulance and he spent two days on a trolley in University Hospital Limerick (UHL), despite having had a recent quadruple by-pass.

The former O'Briensbridge Community Group chairman was admitted to UHL on Sunday, August 18 and didn't get a bed until the following Tuesday evening.

He said he wouldn't wish his horrific experience of being on a trolley - where he couldn't sleep and had no privacy - "on his worst enemy".

Once he had a bed, his treatment was good, describing it as "worlds apart" from his time on a trolley.

The former Green Party local elections candidate believes vulnerable elderly patients should be prioritised after serious surgery.


While he was told he was on a priority list for a bed, he was informed there wasn't one available.

"I wouldn't wish lying on a trolley on my worst enemy. That is the best way to put it," he said. "You can read about what it is like lying on a trolley over and over again but you can really understand it or know how horrific it is until you experience it."

When Mr Murtagh eventually got a bed, he acknowledged he received "very good" treatment in UHL.

"It is like a totally different world when you get a bed in a ward.

"It is unbelievable. I felt a sense of peace and relaxation in the bed that I hadn't on a trolley because I was tensed up," he said.

"It was a terrible experience to go through.

"There is no comparison between having a bed in a ward and lying on a trolley. You have space, room and privacy in a ward. You can pull a curtain around your bed."

During 2018, the average number of daily presentations at the ED was 197.

In the week beginning Monday, August 12, average presentations on weekdays surpassed 220 at UHL, a pattern that continued into the following week, with 217 attendances.

Average daily presentations at the ED remain high, with 212 attendances on Monday August 26 and 178 on Tuesday, August 27.

UHL stated the hospital is facing additional pressures in accessing transitional care and home care package funding, which has contributed to a rise in delayed discharges untypical in the mid-west.

On Wednesday last week, there were 50 delayed discharges across the hospital group, more than twice the average level.

A group spokesman said that most of the 10 beds recently closed to admissions following an outbreak of a gastro-intestinal bug at UHL have been re-opened but will still have an impact on moving the equivalent number of patients from the ED.

"Bed capacity at UHL remains considerably below that of comparable hospitals in Ireland; 455 inpatient beds is not sufficient for the needs of the region," he said.

"Over the past 12 months, bed capacity at UHL has increased by five.

"Construction has commenced on a 60-bed block at UHL, which we expect to open in Q4 of 2020."

Irish Independent

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