News Irish News

Saturday 18 November 2017

Second patient died after being left on trolley in busy corridor

Patients on trolleys in A&E at Tallaght Hospital.
Patients on trolleys in A&E at Tallaght Hospital.
Health Minister James Reilly responds to the report yesterday.

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

The tragic death of a second patient on a trolley in a busy corridor of Tallaght Hospital in Dublin was publicly revealed for the first time yesterday.

The revelation of the second unexpected death was made in a damning watchdog report into safety at the hospital's emergency department.

The patient died in the hospital corridor in July 2011, just months after the death of Thomas Walsh (65), from Kilnamanagh, Tallaght, in March.

Mr Walsh's death had prompted an investigation by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) which found a hospital which regularly put patients on corridors for more than five days in some cases.

The report, published yesterday, described how severe overcrowding in its emergency department left patients at risk on trolleys and armchairs in the corridor, a practice which should not be "tolerated in any hospital in Ireland".

This included findings that 80pc of patients admitted to A&E ended up on trolleys in corridors -- and how the average patient spent 13 hours on a trolley but that one patient spent 140 hours.

Other issues highlighted in the report included: how the hospital had five different "acting chief executives" in three years; how no one was accountable for safety and quality; how executive meetings were dominated by discussions on finance instead of safety; and how the Health Service Executive (HSE) failed to hold the hospital to account despite €180m in annual funding.

Review

The HIQA report showed the hospital's own internal review into Mr Walsh's death highlighted contributing factors such as a lack of an early warning system for a deteriorating patient and inadequate communication between hospital teams.

Documents uncovered incidents of patient safety concern in the emergency department were reported in 2010, including 27 involving people on trolleys in the corridor.

There are no details about the medical condition of the second patient who died in July. Tallaght Hospital last night declined to comment.

The hospital's new chief executive Eilish Hardiman said earlier yesterday that both she and the interim board of the hospital had made "positive progress" in recent months in addressing issues raised by HIQA and patients were no longer on corridors.

The report warned that waiting times in other hospitals are still in breach of the six-hour deadline, beyond which a patient is at risk of becoming a victim to some danger.

Tracey Cooper, HIQA chief executive, said the report made a wide range of recommendations including a call on all hospitals to never put patients on corridors again.

She said hospitals needed to be more accountable for the billions of public funding they are receiving.

"The chief executive and the board chairman must be in the line of fire," she warned.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has been asked to examine the lack of financial controls at the hospital which saw several executives receive more than €700,000 in top-up payments over five years.

Health Minister James Reilly said last night that he was confident the six-hour limit can be met "by next year" as long as co-operation is received from frontline staff.

Editorial comment

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News