Saturday 21 July 2018

Hospital investigation launched after man 'turned away' suffers heart attack

Deputy John Brady
Deputy John Brady
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A Dublin hospital has launched an investigation into claims that a man who suffered a heart attack had earlier been turned away.

The man, who is in his 50s, presented himself at St Columcille's Hospital in South Dublin on Wednesday and complained of chest pains.

But he claims that he was turned away by hospital staff because he did not have a GP referral letter in his possession.

After leaving the hospital, the man travelled on the bus to Bray, Co Wicklow to visit his GP. He collapsed on the town's main street and has since undergone an operation after suffering a suspected heart attack.

Sinn Féin TD John Brady has said the man is lucky to be alive and earlier called on Health Minister Simon Harris to demand a full investigation.

A spokeswoman for Mr Harris told that he has been in direct contact with the hospital group and that an investigation is underway.

"Minister Harris has been in direct contact with the hospital group in connection with this case, understands an investigation is under way and expects a meeting will take place with the patient in due course," the spokeswoman said.

The incident is understood to have deeply distressed the family of the man, who is from Bray himself.

After pleading with staff,, the man was told he required a referral letter from his GP in order to be seen by a doctor.

He left the hospital just after lunchtime, crossed the footbridge to the other side of the road and got the bus to nearby Bray in order to visit his GP.

The man suddenly suffered a suspected heart attack on Bray main street and was treated on the scene by passers-by before the emergency services arrived.

He was rushed to St Jame’s Hospital where he has since undergone surgery.

Details of the case have been provided by the man’s family to Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady.

Mr Brady said both he and the family are now demanding an urgent investigation.

“We are talking about a matter of life and death here, “ Mr Brady said.

“I have sought a meeting with hospital management to establish what exactly are the protocols and procedures here," he added.

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 does, however, have a medical assessment unit and an injuries unit.

While the hospital would not comment on “individual cases”, a spokeswoman told that that the medical assessment unit does not accept “walk-in patients”.

“The Medical Assessment Unit assesses patients referred by GP with acute medical conditions such as Chest Infection, Urinary Tract Infection, Collapse, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Anaemia without active bleeding, fever and headaches. The MAU is open seven days per week from 8 am to 6 pm.  It accepts GP referrals and patient transfers from St. Vincent’s University Hospital.  It does not accept ‘walk in’ patients,” the spokeswoman said.

“The IU is open seven days per week from 8am to 6pm. It manages ‘minor injuries’ and governance of the unit is with the Emergency Department in St Vincent’s University Hospital.

The Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and the Injuries Unit (IU) have seen a combined total of 12,778 attendances in 2016.”

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