BEAUMONT Hospital has asked patients to "avoid or delay" attending the emergency department due to chronic overcrowding.
In a statement, the hospital said staff are under "enormous strain" and regretted the extremely difficult conditions as a result of several factors.
There were 49 patients on trolleys in the emergency department (ED) - the highest of any hospital in Ireland.
Management confirmed that ambulances bound for Beaumont ED were being diverted to other hospitals. It also called on patients considering coming to the ED to go to the GP instead and is asking GPs not to refer patients to Beaumont "unless completely necessary".
"Beaumont Hospital is keeping the situation under control and, where possible, ambulances bound for the ED are being diverted to other hospitals. Beaumont is also today appealing for support from the wider community to reduce the pressure on the ED," the hospital said in a statement.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMNO) says the level of overcrowding called for drastic measures and nurses are planning on balloting for industrial action from Monday.
The INMO said that staff will consider "everything up to withdrawal of labour" due to the "unsafe conditions as a result of overcrowding and under staffing". They said that the situation has deteriorated over the past two weeks.
INMO spokesperson Lorraine Monaghan welcomed the moves by management to urge patients to consider before attending ED, but said they would only provide "temporary relief". Nurse Anne Marie McGuire (33) from Clare, living in Santry said that the condititions for patients and staff alike appear to be getting worse.
"Something has to be done at this stage. We don't want to wait for something bad to happen and it doesn't seem like anything is going to be done to change this," she told the Herald.
"It is about the patient care that you are trying to deliver.
"It is very distressing for family members coming in to see relatives who could be in their 80s sitting on a chair for three days. That is not right."