Vomiting blood - but woman left A&E untreated

Jeanette Birch at her Portmarnock home. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

By Joyce Fegan

A Dublin woman who was admitted to Beaumont Hospital vomiting blood and severely dehydrated was left sitting in a chair for six hours.

Jeanette Birch (22), from Portmarnock, arrived in the emergency department last Saturday at 2pm, after a GP advised her to get to a hospital immediately and ask to be put on a drip.

"My symptoms were severe dehydration, vomiting and a sharp pain under my right ribs," Ms Birch told the Herald.

She claims that she was offered a codeine-based medicine and by 8pm was advised that she probably would not be seen until the morning.

"I was told I would have to wait until morning to be seen, as I was 22 and should be able to sit on a chair for a night," said Ms Birch.

She then left the hospital and was readmitted by ambulance last Monday at 11am.

Her symptoms had "worsened considerably", but she was left in a wheelchair and by 2pm decided to leave as she still had not been attended to.

"Again, we left due to the time lapse and the pain I was in," Ms Birch stated.

She said she was offered another codeine-based medicine but decided not to take it because of the severe pain in her stomach and vomiting.

By last Saturday the young Dublin woman had not eaten or taken any fluids in three days.

"I couldn't even hold down a sip of water," she explained.

Yesterday she lodged a complaint with the Dublin hospital.

"I've had to go private now, I've taken it into my own hands as the health services let me down," stated Ms Birch. "I just gave up. I'd kept asking for a drip."

When Beaumont Hospital was asked about the case and Ms Birch's assertion that it was understaffed a spokesman said they did not comment on individual cases.

However, he said that the emergency department was one of the busiest in the country.

And he also explained that it treats 45,000 patients every year.

The spokesman did admit that the department was, however, "challenged".

"The department is often challenged to deal with the demand for its services. All patients arriving at the emergency department are triaged to assess their condition and to assist with priority and treatment.

"Beaumont Hospital is working on a continuous basis with the HSE/Department of Health on measures which will reduce waiting times and improve our patients' experience in the hospital," he said.


Ms Birch was extremely worried that either her gallbladder or an ovarian cyst was about to burst.

"There is a history of gallbladder disease in my family and I already suffer from poly-cystic ovarian syndrome," she said.

The hospital's clinical director Professor Shane O'Neill stepped down last May over concerns for patients.

He said assessing psychiatric patients in the hospital's emergency department was "entirely unsafe and indefensible".