Sunday 20 May 2018

Woman (86) died after 36 hours on A&E trolley

Isabel Hurley

A CORONER will write to the Health Service Executive chief to highlight overcrowding in the country's A&Es after hearing heartbreaking evidence of an elderly woman's 36-hour wait on a hospital trolley before her death.

Kildare coroner Denis Cusack said he would be raising the issue with Brendan Drumm following an inquest into the death of 86-year-old Maureen Prendergast yesterday.

Mrs Prendergast, of Straffan, Co Kildare, and Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, died at Naas General Hospital on March 5, 2009, as a result of a heart problem following an earlier fall at her home in January 2009. She was first admitted with a suspected hip fracture and suffering from uncharacteristic confusion in mid-February 2009.

Dr Cusack said that he was concerned over the waiting times the elderly patient had endured at the hospital's A&E despite the best efforts of staff.

"I will be writing to Brendan Drumm of the HSE outlining this as a matter of concern,'' said Dr Cusack, who noted with dismay that "the problem has not gone away and it puts families in a very difficult position, the medical staff and, of course, the patients".

Mrs Prendergast's daughter, Philomena Nicholl, and her sons, Leo and Eamon Prendergast, were present at yesterday's four-hour hearing in Naas.

Clinical nurse manager Sr Fiona McDaid told the inquest that Mrs Prendergast was one of 31 patients without a bed at a particularly busy time for the hospital. Ten of these patients were over the age of 75.


Dr Cusack was told that the hospital had to deal with "bed issues for a lot of the year'' with particular demands on their resources in the winter months.

The situation resulted in her sending twice-daily reports to the HSE on the matter at the time. She described the bed issue as a "daily struggle''.

The inquest heard that Mrs Prendergast's children had raised many concerns about their mother's treatment. This included her long hours on a hospital trolley and a chair.

The inquest heard from her son Eamon how upsetting it was to see the staples being removed with "a pliers'' as he didn't want to see her suffer any pain. "It looked like pliers. She (a nurse) was going for my mother's head and I did not want her to be hurt,'' he said.

He and his sister stepped outside for a cup of coffee while the staples were being removed only to receive a phone call to say that their mother had passed away. The coroner recorded a cause of death of cardiac arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat -- complicated by a brain injury and Mrs Prendergast's earlier fall at her home.

Irish Independent

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