DEPUTY Willie O’Dea has called for a speedy conclusion to an investigation by University Hospital Limerick into complaints, including a woman in her eighties being left cold, and her family told there were no more blankets.
The lady’s son, Gerard Brinn, has made a number of complaints about how his mother, who has dementia, was treated.
In his written submission to the Patient Safety and Quality Directorate he said: “It is my personal opinion that the oppressive construction noise, coldness of the ward, rudeness of some nurses, lack of access to empathetic doctors and the lack of warm bedding and treatment in University Hospital Limerick harmed my mother more than aided her betterment.” The 84-year-old woman was referred to A&E on the evening of Thursday, January 30 for signs of renal injury on referral from her doctor after she became ill in St Camillus.
Mr Brinn says she was admitted to a ward at 2am on Saturday, February 1 and he asks why she had to spend over 30 hours in A&E?
On a visit to his mother on Sunday he said she was cold to touch.
“I requested an additional blanket to be informed that there were no more blankets and a sheet was wrapped around my mother’s feet. Why would there not be sufficient linen supplies on the ward to keep patients warm?” he wrote in his complaint.
In detail, he speaks of an “administrative error” concerning who the doctor assigned to his mother was.
“I contacted the doctor’s secretary on Monday and was informed that my mother was not on their list but she was actually on a different doctor’s list since Friday,” wrote Mr Brinn, from Ennis Road. Later that day he asked to speak to a member of the second doctor’s team to be told his mother was on the list of the original doctor.
“I had to raise my voice to get across that they were wrong. I was informed that it would not be unusual over the weekend for my mother to not have been seen since Friday as she was not ‘that ill’. I asked why renal injury was not considered ‘that ill’ to which point I was informed by a doctor that ‘this was not a walk up on demand service’. I demanded to see a doctor and in the flurry of activity the doctor finally discovered that mam was indeed supposed to be on the second doctor’s list. How did this administrative error happen?”
Mr Brinn lists other issues including delays regarding plans for his mother; negative impact of construction noise; no response to ‘bleeping’ a doctor and charts and transfer documents not updated.
“I’m incredibly frustrated by this experience as my mother’s underlying medical issues – immobility and dementia – were not considered in her care. Facilitating access to mam to help with eating was resisted by the nursing staff after I raised concerns.
“I have included many questions and I would welcome these being given your due attention and if addressing these points go anyway towards preventing it happening to another patient we will have achieved something,” wrote Mr Brinn, who made the complaint to University Hospital on February 7. To date he has not received any report on his complaints.
A hospital response to Deputy Willie O’Dea at the beginning of May states that Mr Brinn’s concerns are still under investigation.
“I am trying to get some accountability and some answers and I am finding it very difficult to get them. They are still investigating it and I hope they bring the investigation to a speedy conclusion. If necessary I am going to raise this in the Dail because it is a serious case that needs to be treated seriously,” said Mr O’Dea.
Following a query from the Limerick Leader a HSE spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on individual cases.”
“We welcome all comments, compliments and complaints from service users, carers, visitors and the community about the services we provide. We see any comment, compliment or complaint as a chance to improve the quality of our services and to learn lessons from any mistakes made,” said the spokesperson.