The unannounced inspection was carried out on March 15 | FILE PHOTO / Adrian Butler
A NUMBER of significant risks to patient safety were identified during an unannounced inspection of the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick earlier this year.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published a report relating to the inspection which was carried out on March 15 - before the St Patrick's bank holiday weekend.
The inspection was to follow-up on issues of overcrowding at UHL and to assess preparations for the risk of additional severe crowding.
According to the report, HIQA found the hospital to be partially compliant with one standard and non-compliant with three standards assessed on the day of inspection.
They found that demand for services exceeded the emergency department’s capacity and was a major contributing factor to overcrowding while ineffective patient flow and decreased inpatient bed capacity was also a significant factor. The report states that nurse staffing levels were insufficient on the day.
"The overcrowded and understaffed emergency department posed a significant risk to the provision of safe, quality, person-centred care and to the health and welfare of people receiving care in the department. The dignity, privacy and confidentiality of patients attending and receiving care in the emergency department was compromised," it added.
HIQA says it inspectors were not assured that the hospital had enacted measures to sufficiently manage overcrowding in the emergency department and the related patient safety risks posed by overcrowding
It says adequate measures were not in place, on the day, to address the issues of ineffective patient flow, insufficient nurse staffing levels and prolonged waiting times, all of which contributed to the overcrowding of the emergency department.
Following the inspection, HIQA escalated concerns to University Limerick Hospitals Group and the HSE.
"HIQA sought assurances that the hospital and wider region would be effectively supported to enact substantive measures to address capacity deficits, including in acute and community service configuration, capacity and resourcing implementation," said a spokesperson.
The authority says the hospital has submitted a compliance plan in response to the inspection findings, outlining its short, medium and long-term actions to address the non-compliances.
HIQA says will continue to monitor issues in the hospital’s emergency department and implementation of the compliance plan to ensure patient safety risks are reduced.
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