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13.11 5 Jun 2015


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A consultant in emergency medicine has described the treatment of a 101-year-old woman at Tallaght Hospital as an unforgivable "human rights abuse."

The woman, who has a history of heart attack and other health problems, was brought to the hospital on Monday, and left on a trolley for 26 hours in the hospital's Emergency Department.

She was given a blood transfusion while on the trolley.

Tallaght Hospital has released a statement, saying management met with the family today to apologise:

"The Hospital fully accepts that no patient should be forced to wait for a bed and that priority should be given to elderly patients in allocation of beds.

"A review of the particular circumstance that gave rise to the unacceptable delays in this case is in process and appropriate measures are being put in place to mitigate the risk of recurrence.

"A number of contributory factors were at play with regard to the incident, one of which was a peak in patient numbers due to the Bank Holiday weekend.

"Another underlying factor is a 25% increase over the past 2 years of older patients presenting at ED with more complex medical requirements. The Hospital therefore experiences periodic peaks in numbers attending its Emergency Department."

The hospital also said measures are already underway to increase capacity and staffing.

Dr James Gray, consultant in emergency medicine at Tallaght Hospital, spoke to Newstalk Lunchtime today. He said that the CEO of the hospital and HIQA were made aware of the situation in the department earlier in the week.

Dr Gray said the woman was lucid and put out by her treatment, and that she intended to write to President Higgins to complain.

He explained that the medical team had 'great concerns' that the lady was subjected to "basically a human rights abuse":

Deputy CEO of Tallaght Hospital Sarah McMickan also spoke to Jonathan Healy about the situation.

She apologised on behalf of the hospital to the patient and her family for the 'unacceptable delay' that the woman experienced, and said that she and the CEO will be meeting with the family this afternoon.

She explained that "there were extreme pressures within the Emergency Department" on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

She said, "that certainly we are working on our processes to improve the speed at which patients get through the system", adding that "delays are a reality within emergency departments":


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