Faults found in hospital's treatment of elderly man

Mon, Dec 10, 2012, 00:00

A report into the case of a man (85) who died less than a week after he left Cavan General Hospital has found “significant shortcomings” surrounding his admission, including an “unacceptable” 31-hour stay in the emergency department.

However, it said it was difficult to see how the outcome could have differed greatly.

Father-of-eight Patsy Kernan, a farmer from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan died on Monday, May 21st, this year. He had been admitted to Cavan on Tuesday, May 8th, after becoming very weak. He had a chest infection and had not been eating or drinking.

The confidential report by the hospital’s risk adviser found that Mr Kernan had spent 31 hours on a trolley in the emergency department before receiving a bed on a medical ward.

Treatment

“While Mr Kernan had an unacceptable length of stay in the emergency department due to a lack of bed availability, he did receive a reasonable standard of care,” it said.

His daughter Denise Kernan said the family had repeatedly asked that he be put on intravenous fluids because he had not been eating or drinking, but the hospital said this was not necessary.

The day after he went into hospital a family member contacted St Vincent’s hospital, where Mr Kernan had been successfully treated for cancer. A nurse there contacted Cavan to highlight the family’s concerns. Cavan medical staff recommended intravenous fluids that day and the treatment began that evening.

Family concerns

The family was also concerned that, although he had been admitted on Tuesday and seen by the admitting consultant, he had not been seen by the primary consultant until Friday. Eventually, against medical advice, they asked that he be discharged on May 16th.

The report found “a lack of attention to detail” in completing charts and stated: “It is noted that the recording of Mr Kernan’s fluid balance was not to an acceptable standard of care.

“The process and procedure surrounding Mr Kernan’s admission in Cavan General Hospital demonstrates significant shortcomings in a number of areas which will be addressed.

“It is difficult to see how the outcome could have differed greatly without initiating a number of invasive medical procedures which Mr Kernan advised the primary consultant he did not wish to have carried out.”

A spokeswoman for the Health Service Executive said Cavan/Monaghan Hospitals extended its deepest sympathies to Mr Kernan’s family and friends. She said hospital management had met the family after concerns were raised about his treatment.