AN ELDERLY patient at University Hospital Limerick was left waiting more than 48 hours for a bed despite being admitted with what was later discovered to be a lower back fracture.
90-year-old Ann Talty from Raheem in Co Limerick was brought in to the hospital’s A&E department on Monday, November 25, after two weeks of increasingly severe back pain.
But despite the seriousness of her condition, overcrowding at the hospital saw the retired shop owner forced to wait on a trolley and chair for a bed to become available.
Worse still, Ms Talty was also in further pain after a mix-up resulted in a delay in her receiving essential pain medication for two hours.
Despite this, the 90-year-old former businesswoman was left in agony for much of her wait with her back issues leaving her leaning forward on a chair, unable to lie in the trolley provided, and fearing she would be unable to walk to the toilet.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, her daughter Trish Talty described the chaotic overcrowded conditions, which saw trolleys carrying patients lined up along the corridors with many forced to undergo examinations without the benefit of any privacy.
"My mother's condition was deteriorating because of the conditions she was in,” she said.
"People were constantly being moved out of the way. I had to bring my mother to the bathroom, and I had to move a patient's trolley to get into it.
"Every space was occupied. She put her head on the trolley but kept waking up.
"If I treated my mother like this at home, I would be accused of abuse."
After contacting the Limerick Leader, Trish and the Talty family succeeded in getting Ann transferred to St John's Hospital in Limerick on Wednesday evening.
It was only then that doctors discovered she had suffered a lower back fracture.
According to the Irish Mirror, the day of Ms Talty’s admission marked a new record for the highest level of overcrowding in a single day at University Hospital Limerick.
It is estimated that as many as 85 patients were on trolleys, with 55 waiting for a bed in the emergency department.
A spokesman for the UL Hospitals Group told the newspaper: “We regret that any patient has to wait on a trolley for admission.
“This is not the level of service we wish to provide but we want to reassure the public that every effort is made to move patients to a bed as soon as possible.”