Thursday 26 April 2018

Hospital chiefs to review rules after heart-attack patient was turned away

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A Dublin hospital will overhaul its rules for patients who self-present, after a man was turned away despite telling staff he was suffering from chest pains.

The man, in his late 50s, suffered a suspected heart attack just hours after leaving St Columcille's Hospital in south Dublin.

He was told by staff he could not be seen by a doctor without a letter from his doctor.

The Irish Independent understands hospital bosses have apologised to the family at the centre of the case and have pledged to review the rules surrounding patients who arrive without a GP referral letter.

Sources said they expect the rules to be overhauled.

Health Minister Simon Harris is understood to be deeply concerned about the case and the prospect of a patient being refused admission on the basis that he did not have the relevant documentation.

The minister contacted the HSE and hospital management directly and has sought an investigation, which has since been launched.

He will tell HSE bosses to hold a face-to-face meeting with the family.

The minister wants to establish the facts surrounding the events last Wednesday, when the man presented himself.

The man, who is in his 50s, took a bus back to his hometown of Bray and made his way to his GP's surgery.

He collapsed on Bray main street.

The man was taken to St James's Hospital where he underwent surgery.

Yesterday, a woman who saved the man from dying said she learned the life-saving manoeuvres from TV.

The woman, named only as Fiona, told RTÉ'S 'Liveline' she saw a crowd of people around the man after he fell.

"I was just up the main street in Bray and I crossed the road and saw a crowd of people.

"There was a man on the ground, everyone was in shock.

"I just bent over and said that he was OK and help was on the way," she told the programme.

"He didn't look great. I then realised he wasn't with us any more. He was gone. I just rolled him over on to his back.

"I was conscious of getting oxygen to his brain so I just started giving him chest compressions.

"I'm not a medic, I just watch a lot of '24 Hours in A&E,'" Fiona added.

"It felt like 10 seconds but it was probably more like a couple of minutes. There just happened to be paramedic students in the area and someone flagged them down. They were able to administer defibrillation."

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady, who first raised the case, said the man in question could have died.

"We need to find out why this happened and ensure that nobody gets turned away from a hospital when they need treatment. A meeting with hospital management needs to happen to discuss protocol and change it if need be," Mr Brady said.

The incident is understood to have deeply distressed the family of the man.

St Columcille's was downgraded in November 2013 with a decision being made to shut down the emergency department.

As a result, emergency cases are diverted to St Vincent's Hospital.

The hospital has since commenced a review into the case.

"It is hospital policy that the medical assessment unit does not accept 'walk-in patients'," a spokesperson said.

Irish Independent

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