Saturday 25 May 2019

'How could he have been left so long?' - asks family of man found dead on chair in A&E

CCTV footage shows Brian Hamilton (inset), from Crumlin, arriving at the hospital at around 2am on Saturday morning.
CCTV footage shows Brian Hamilton (inset), from Crumlin, arriving at the hospital at around 2am on Saturday morning.
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The heartbroken family of a Dublin man found dead in the waiting area of Tallaght Hospital's emergency department say they cannot understand how he could have been slouched over in a chair for nearly 12 hours without anybody apparently checking on him.

CCTV footage shows Brian Hamilton (40), from Crumlin, arriving at the hospital at around 2am on Saturday morning.

His family has been told he appears to have gone to the toilet and returned to the seating area at around 4am.

However, from that point on until nearly 12 hours later, it seems nobody approached Brian until a member of staff spotted he was dead in the chair, half slumped over, and with his arm outstretched beside him.

"We just cannot understand how he could have been left so long," said Brian's sister, Paula, from the family home.

"Surely there should be some protocol to check on people.

Brian Hamilton celebrating his 40th birthday in November (Photo supplied by family)
Brian Hamilton celebrating his 40th birthday in November (Photo supplied by family)

"We are all still getting over the death of our mother in May last year, something which affected Brian badly, and now we are trying to get our heads around this."

Paula said Brian came from a good and loving home, where his parents worked hard and he and his five brothers and sisters had a good upbringing.

"Brian was a soft soul but he had his demons," said Paula.

Brian's brother Michael added: "He had problems with alcohol, and he was doing his best to address them.

"When our mother was alive she was a crutch for him, but after she died it was harder for him.

"To get treatment he had to register as homeless to get into the Simon detox centre, but he wasn't sleeping rough on the streets. He wasn't homeless in that sense.

"Brian was in touch with us regularly. He was in Simon until last week in the residential rehabilitation unit. It was his third time there since mam died.

"He was really good when he was with Simon and detoxed, but then he would fall into the same hole when he got out."

Looking lovingly at the photograph on her phone of Brian holding his birthday cake, Paula said: "We had his 40th birthday party here last November, with no alcohol, and he was doing great."

Brian did not approach the registration desk when he entered the hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning, and his family does not know why he was there in the first place.

"Whatever the situation, we can't understand why someone from behind the desk, or some of the security or other staff, did not wonder about Brian being where he was for so long, or why he wasn't moved on when morning came around," said Paula.

"We respect all the doctors and nurses that work in the hospital, and we know the pressure they are under. We just can't understand that lack of attention in that waiting room."

Paula and Michael said Brian was the second-youngest of six children.

"He was good at boxing, and had two Dublin medals with the club in Drimnagh. He loved Man United too," said Michael.

In an earlier interview with 98FM's Dublin Talks show, Michael told of identifying his brother's body.

"I went up and identified the body on Saturday and I could tell myself, and I'm not a doctor, that he was dead a long time," he said.

"The doctor who dealt with him said they shocked him but there was nothing there to shock.

"I said I'm not surprised, he's dead a long time. You could tell by the colour of his face, his ears were black, his neck was black."

Michael also said he was telling his story in the hope that something like this doesn't happen to anyone else.

"The desk is looking right out on to it. How did nobody see a man slumped over for whatever it was, four to five hours?," he said.

"They're going to spend €40m bringing the Pope here; they want to put some money into the health system.

"I'm just ringing to get it out there so that maybe it won't happen to somebody else."

A spokesman for Tallaght University Hospital confirmed that a person died in the waiting area of the hospital's emergency department on Saturday afternoon.

"The person in question is understood to have been homeless and was sheltering at the hospital and had not sought medical treatment," he said.

"Management at the hospital are co-operating with the gardai in their investigations and an internal review will also be initiated immediately into the circumstances of the incident.

"The hospital would like to extend their condolences to the family of the deceased."

Gardai said they were "investigating the death of a man in his 40s in the A&E department of Tallaght Hospital on Saturday afternoon".

They added: "Gardai were alerted at 5.30pm. A post-mortem will be carried out to establish the cause of death. However, foul play is not suspected."

Last November, a consultant at Tallaght Hospital wrote to management stating that "it remains dangerous and unsafe" in A&E.

"It is only a matter of time before there is the next cardiac arrest, serious morbidity or mortality in the waiting room," wrote Dr James Gray.


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