Hospital apologises to woman (93) who spent 20 hours on trolley

Hospital says very busy on night of Margaret Fagan’s admission, but this was no excuse

Margaret Fagan’s case came to light after a series of similar incidents in which elderly patients were left on trolleys for long periods. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Margaret Fagan’s case came to light after a series of similar incidents in which elderly patients were left on trolleys for long periods. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

The board of St James’s Hospital has apologised to a 93-year-old woman who spent 20 hours on a trolley last month.

Following an article in The Irish Times which detailed how Margaret Fagan spent nine hours waiting for a doctor at home before spending another 20 hours on a trolley upon her arrival at St James’s emergency department, her daughter Rita Fagan said there had been a brief meeting with the hospital’s head of nursing who apologised to Margaret and her family for the ordeal.

It followed a meeting of the hospital’s board of management, which was said to be “concerned” at reports on patient welfare, as part of an admission that the situation Ms Fagan faced was not acceptable.

Ms Fagan took ill on January 24th and was made to wait for nine hours for the out-of-hours Dubdoc service run by St James’s to arrive at her flat in nearby Pimlico.

Vomiting patients

She was subsequently taken to the emergency department, where she received a course of antibiotics on a trolley while other sick patients “vomited in front of everyone”, according to her daughter.

Ms Fagan was diagnosed with pneumonia and is recovering well in hospital. Her daughter reiterated that she only sought to publicise the story to help improve services in the HSE.

It was explained to Rita Fagan that St James’s was particularly busy on the night in question, but this was no excuse for what had happened.

Rita Fagan said no apology has been received by the family from Dubdoc after the doctor who attended her mother “shouted” at her and displayed “incompetence”. Rita Fagan said a formal complaint has since been lodged and she was told it is currently being reviewed.

Margaret Fagan’s case came to light after a series of similar incidents in which elderly patients were left on trolleys for long periods, most notably that of a 91-year-old man who spent over 24 hours on a trolley in Tallaght Hospital last November.

Emergency departments throughout the country have come under enormous strain over recent weeks as flu season approaches its peak, and various hospitals have had to cancel non-essential procedures on some days to cope with excess demand.