LIFE ON A TROLLEY
Seriously ill patients could be left stranded on the corridor of Tallaght Hospital in Dublin for days, it was revealed yesterday.
The corridor had become an essential "virtual ward" for the hospital's overcrowded emergency department and patients had to endure the indignity of lying on a trolley, or sitting in an armchair, in full view of passers-by.
The report, by patient watchdog the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), revealed how patients who needed a hospital bed could be left on the corridor for more than five days.
As many as 86pc of patients who were sick enough to be admitted to a bed found themselves on a trolley or armchair there with no privacy or dignity.
Doctors examined the patients in the full glare of anyone who was passing and in one recorded case a patient had a facial biopsy -- the removal of tissue for analysis -- on one of these trolleys.
The report revealed how during an unannounced inspection in August 24, 2011, a patient with suspected TB had to be put in isolation in a clinical room which opened directly into a corridor where other patients were cared for.
Inspectors discovered 51 patients in the emergency department, and six had been there for more than 24 hours with 12 people on trolleys in the corridor.
Some patients on the corridor were not reviewed until mid-morning . There were inadequate toilet, washing and storage facilities. It led to an urgent letter to the hospital warning of serious risks to the patients.
Patients could be waiting an average of 13 hours for a bed but they could also find themselves on the corridor for more than five days.
HIQA concluded: "The physical congestion and absence of basic facilities associated with the use of the corridor as a waiting area for ill patients compromised the quality and safety of care of these people."
Out of the total number of patients who attended the emergency department in the first half of last year, 14pc left without completing their care.
A range of failings and outside pressures were uncovered by HIQA including the lack of clarity about who was in charge of a patient's care if transferred to the corridor.
"This raised significant concern about the hospital's ability to ensure patients, at all times, had a designated consultant who was clinically responsible and accountable for their care. This was subsequently addressed by the hospital in November 2011."