Sunday 25 August 2019

Beaumont says sorry to family for failures in care of 81-year-old man

Gerry Feeney
Gerry Feeney
Gerry Feeney at Beaumont Hospital
Gerry Feeney in the army

Sam Griffin

Beaumont Hospital has apologised to the family of an 81-year-old man after an independent investigation found it "failed to protect his dignity".

The family of Gerry Feeney, who was photographed in a dishevelled state wearing a stained gown while in hospital last year, have welcomed the findings and are now requesting a meeting with Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

The photos of Mr Feeney, who died three weeks after his release from Beaumont, sparked outrage and highlighted the severe pressure on hospital emergency departments.

Following complaints by Mr Feeney's family, an investigation into the case was commissioned by the hospital and carried out by an independent experts.

The investigation report, seen by the Irish Independent, highlights a number of failings in the care provided to Mr Feeney, a former Aer Lingus worker from Killester in Dublin.

The investigation team found there was a failure to implement Beaumont's own policies in terms of patient discharge and staffing levels in wards.

It recommends immediate changes to the discharge and record keeping policies at Beaumont.

Mr Feeney, who suffered from Parkinson's disease and issues with his heart and breathing, was admitted to the hospital on December 8, 2014. He was assessed and discharged back to his nursing home the following day.

In its findings, the report says there was a breach of the hospital's discharge policy as it was unclear who made the decision to discharge. Hospital policy states only a senior doctor can make such a decision.

"For this reason he should not have been discharged," the report states.

It is also says there was evidence of "poor communication and confusion" about who had responsibility for Mr Feeney's care.

Staff at the nursing home remained concerned for his well-being and he was readmitted.

On December 19, a family member visited him in hospital. She told the investigation she found him "in a dishevelled state in a dirty gown". She said his incontinence pad was open, leaving him exposed.

She also said he was distressed and complained he was "being neglected".

She sought a nurse, however there was none in the bay where Mr Feeney was being treated in the Whitworth ward. The report said this was in breach of ward policy.

The report said it was "understandable" that Mr Feeney's gown would be stained because of a tendency to drool when eating - but stated the fact his "incontinence pad was undone and was left exposed is completely unacceptable".

"That was a failure to protect the patient's dignity," it says.

The report did not support some of the complaints made. It said the photo of Mr Feeney "was not a true reflection of the overall care of the patient" during his admission".

Mr Feeney's family last night said their "beloved Gerry" had been left in a "distressing and undignified" condition which still upsets them today.

They said the report highlighted a "worrying reliance by Beaumont Hospital on junior staff" and disputed a number of findings including one that said Mr Feeney had not been left in the emergency department for a week.

Ann-Maria Feeney also thanked the Irish Patients' Association and its chief Stephen McMahon for his support.

Beaumont CEO Liam Duffy apologised to the family and will meet them next month.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News