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HIQA should investigate standards at ALL overcrowded emergency services

Emergency Medicine group calls for HIQA to expand its investigation to all hospitals which have a record of chronic overcrowding in their emergency departments.

Image: RambergMediaImages via Creative Commons

AN EMERGENCY medicines group has called on the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to expand its investigation of emergency services at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, which incorporates the National Children’s Hospital Tallaght.

HIQA said it would focus on the quality and safety of care provided to patients requiring acute admission and receiving care at the hospital.

The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) welcomed HIQA’s announcement of the investigation at the weekend, but called on the authority to investigate the standard of services at all hospitals with a record of serious overcrowding.

HIQA’s investigation was launched after last week’s inquest into the death of Dublin man Thomas Walsh, 65, who died at the hospital in March 2011. Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty said the hospital “sounds like a very dangerous place” after hearing evidence of poor sanitation standards and patients sleeping in areas lacking facilities, such as corridors.

The inquest heard that overcrowding was such that at one time, three patients with a highly contagious TB infection were all staying in the corridor.

In a statement, the IAEM said:

The only safe situation is the complete ban on the practice of keeping admitted patients boarded on trolleys in emergency departments.

The group also said that research suggests that “more people suffer avoidable death in overcrowded emergency departments in Ireland each year than on the country’s roads”. It said that the ‘perfect storm’ involving bed closures and staff recruitment bans “is now upon us”, saying:

[H]ospital patient safety requires that contingency measures, including an effective Full Capacity Protocol, whereby affected hospitals are placed on a major emergency/major incident type footing, are activated immediately and without further delay.

Failure to act immediately will lead to further unnecessary deaths among patients waiting in unsafe conditions for in-patient admission.

Read more: Tallaght A&E to undergo safety probe >

Read more: Tallaght Hospital sounds ‘very dangerous’ – coroner >

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