A LIMERICK cardiac patient who was brought to Galway by ambulance two weeks ago insists he didn’t have the type of heart attack the HSE said needed to be treated outside the region outside of business hours.
Speaking from his bed at the Regional Hospital, John Higgins, Ballinacurra Gardens, said he was recovering well after his setback but his family had been upset to be told they would have to follow the ambulance to Galway.
The HSE issued an assurance this week that the bypass of Limerick Regional for STEMI heart attack victims - where a total blockage of the artery requires an urgent angiogram and surgical intervention - was a temporary measure.
A cath lab in Dooradoyle has the appropriate equipment and staffing levels to open round-the-clock but an inspection by the clinical lead of a national coronary care programme was still required before the lab could accept patients outside of 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Brendan Meaney this week described as “unsafe” the practice whereby STEMI heart attack victims were being brought to Galway in the evening and at weekends and feared a “disaster” could arise if a patient went into cardiac arrest on the way or arrived too late.
Mr Higgins told the Leader he had presented at the emergency department in Dooradoyle at around 3.30pm on September 26.
“The place was black with people so I went to John’s where they told me I had a heart attack,” said the 64-year-old Irish Rail retiree.
He was referred back to the coronary care unit at the Regional after 7pm and was told he would have to go to Galway “because there was no service after 5pm”.
Mr Higgins said he had had an angiogram and a stent put in “although the consultant told me I mightn’t even have needed a stent because while I had a heart attack, I had no blockage at all”.
The HSE had said this week that the temporary protocol whereby patients were being brought to Galway only applied to certain heart attack victims. STEMI (ST elevation myocardial infarction) heart attacks are the most serious kind, where the coronary artery is blocked and urgent surgical intervention is required.