Limerick woman, 89, spent 27 hours on a hospital trolley

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

University Hospital Limerick
The DAUGHTER of an 89-year-old woman has spoken of her mother’s “traumatic” experience in A&E in University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

The DAUGHTER of an 89-year-old woman has spoken of her mother’s “traumatic” experience in A&E in University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

The pensioner spent 27 hours in a trolley on a corridor. Her daughter, who doesn’t wish to be named to protect her mum’s identity, said she was admitted at 6pm on a Friday evening after a bad fall.

“She had a deep head wound and cuts and lacerations to her arms. She did not have a screen and was beside a store room that the nurses were in and out of constantly. The lighting was very strong and there was continuous noise and beeping. My mother didn’t close her eyes all night,” she said.

At around 1.30am on October 31 she spoke with her nurse who said they were unable to stitch the head wound as she had to be seen by the medical team.

“At 4am I asked what was the delay to be told that there were two medical doctors on duty and she was second to be seen. At 5am I asked again and was told she would be seen next. At 7.30am I could see that they were preparing for a change of roster so I asked to speak to the ward sister who said they were ‘very busy’. I told her mam had not had a drink or something to eat all night and she brought tea and toast. I was told that the medical doctors were meeting with the change of team and that the new team would be on at 8.30am,” said the woman, who complained to an administrator.

Others then came forward to say they had been told they would be seen next.

“An extremely kind nurse from the 8am shift cleaned and dressed mam’s head wound. My mother wasn’t seen by the medical doctor until 9.30am. She wasn’t transferred to St John’s for another 12 hours. It very traumatic for her.”

“When an older frail person is left on a trolley for that length of time they get uncomfortable. They dig their heels in to the trolley to try to ease their discomfort and the pressure on their sacrum [bone at the base of the spine]. They are wide open to skin ulcers [bed sores].”

A UHL spokesperson apologised that any patient has to wait for long periods of time to be admitted to the emergency department (ED).

“No delay is acceptable for any patient, especially the elderly. The ED at UHL is one of the busiest in the country, providing services to approximately 60,000 patients per annum.

“The ED has experienced high volumes of patients presenting from the beginning of this year which has resulted in high numbers of patients waiting on trolleys and long delays. As of August 31 there was a year on year increase of 9.1% in the number of emergency admissions in UHL,” said the spokesperson.

One thing that the daughter found “mind blowing” was the lack of a wheelchair accessible toilet in A&E.

“I am trained to position a wheelchair and get a person into it. I assisted her off the trolley into a sitting position. I got her into the wheelchair, got to the toilet, pulled the wheelchair in, positioned it, put the brakes on, and shuffled her onto the toilet. My niece had the same problem the next day.”

A UHL spokesperson confirmed this.

“Facilities are available nearby on the ground floor. We have long acknowledged that the ED in UHL is not fit for purpose and a new state of the art ED is due to open in the first quarter 2017.

“In the interim we have developed the Winter Resilience Plan, a ‘whole-system’ approach to ensuring ED overcrowding is minimised as much as possible during what is traditionally the busiest time of year in acute hospitals.”