‘Helpless’ after being left on trolley for days
A TALLAGHT woman said she felt ‘helpless’ and ‘disgusted’ when her mother attended the emergency department in Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) earlier this month, and spent several days on a trolley in a corridor while waiting to be treated for blood clots.
Ellen Meehan, 57, a social care worker from West Park in Tallaght, was admitted to the emergency department at TUH on Friday, March 4, after she began to feel unwell.
The previous week, Ms Meehan had undergone bypass surgery in the Mater and was advised to go to hospital if she took ill during her recovery.
Explaining what happened before her mother was transported to TUH by ambulance, Ms Meehan’s daughter Bernadette Gilroy told The Echo: “She was released from the Mater on Tuesday, March 1.
“On the first day she seemed OK, and on the second day she was just tired.
“But on the third day, on Friday evening when I came home from work, when I saw her face, I knew something was wrong. She didn’t look great.
“She said she didn’t feel right. She took a bit of a funny turn, and then started vomiting everywhere so we called an ambulance.
“They took her to Tallaght Hospital and they told us we couldn’t go with her, and that the furthest we could go in if we went to the hospital was the waiting area.
“They told us to call the hospital after two hours, but when we called them, the phone kept ringing out.”
Ms Meehan’s family kept in contact with her directly during her time in hospital, and were distressed when they found out that their mother was put on a trolley in a corridor in the emergency department.
She remained on that trolley in the corridor shortly after her admission on Friday, until she was admitted to a ward at midnight on Monday night to receive treatment for a pulmonary embolism.
“My mother told me that when she went in, she was in a bed when they examined her, but then she was brought into the hallway on a trolley the night she was brought in,” said Ms Gilroy.
“She was on that trolley until midnight on Monday. They were treating her for a suspected clot, she was post-surgery – she’d just had bypass surgery – and she was left on a trolley. I felt helpless.
“My mother wasn’t happy. We could hear it in her voice, she was so upset about it. She just wanted to sleep and rest, but she couldn’t with the noise and the constant flow of people coming in and out.”
Talking to The Echo, Ms Meehan said several other patients were also being treated on trolleys and chairs in the corridors of the emergency department, while others were being treated in ambulances as there was no room to bring them in.
“I know the staff were busy and I understand staffing and everything, but the care wasn’t there,” explained Ms Meehan.
“There was no privacy whatsoever. No dignity. They’d just pull a screen around you but you’d hear everything.”
She added: “There were no services for me to get scans to confirm the blood clots over the weekend. I was treated for a suspected blood clot, but they couldn’t confirm it until Monday.”
At midnight on Monday night, Ms Meehan was admitted to a ward and treated for a confirmed pulmonary embolism.
She was released the following Thursday and is still recovering and receiving daily injections.
“I’m disgusted,” said Ms Gilroy. “There needs to be more beds available.
“I know the staff in the hospital are overworked, but there are obviously changes needed in the A&E department, because they can’t cope with the flow of people going in.”
After her mother’s experience, Ms Gilroy said she “wouldn’t feel comfortable” with her mother getting treatment again in the TUH emergency department.
“I know that if you have to go there, then you have to go, but the thoughts of her going back to Tallaght A&E…no, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with her getting treatment there,” she said.
This sentiment is echoed by Ms Meehan, who added: “I’d be terrified if I had to go back there. I’d cry. I’d nearly want to go and maybe be treated somewhere else.”
A spokesperson for TUH said they have seen a significant increase in emergency department presentations in recent months – to the extent that attendances for the last six months have exceeded all records in the previous six years.
The TUH spokesperson told The Echo: “Tallaght University Hospital continues to experience a very high number of attendances at its Emergency Department (ED) in recent weeks.
“We are committed to treating everyone who presents to our ED however we do so strictly in order of medical priority.
“Given the volume of patients attending the Emergency Department, we regret there are lengthy delays and long wait times for those who do not need urgent treatment.
“The ongoing challenge for TUH remains the number of patients presenting and the bed capacity available to the hospital.
“The challenge of egress for patient discharge is more acute at the moment with delays in patient discharges due to the availability of nursing home beds and home care packages.
“Implementing a plan that sees the hospital construct more inpatient beds is vital to improving access but also to improving waiting lists performance and quality of care.
“The hospital regrets any delay a patient of any age experiences whilst waiting in our Emergency Department.
“The volume of patients attending the Emergency Department can cause delays in waiting times, patients are prioritised according to clinical need and would ask the public to attend their GP in the first instance where appropriate.”