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Health Watchdog Highlights Serious Concerns About "Gross Overcrowding" At UHL

Tom Douglas
Tom Douglas

12:40 17 Jun 2022

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The health watchdog's highlighting serious concerns about patient safety at University Hospital Limerick due to 'gross' overcrowding.

A HIQA inspection of the hospital's emergency department found the facility failed to meet 3 of the 4 key compliance standards.

It only partially met the fourth.

The quality watch dog was also not assured the hospital had enacted measures to manage overcrowding in its emehaprgency department and that it compromised the dignity and privacy of its patients.

Twice As Many Patients

Sean Egan, Director of Healthcare Regulation at HIQA says the unannounced inspection of the Emergency Department took place on the 15th of March.

It came after a history of "gross overcrowding" at the hospital and Emergency Department, and ahead of a long bank holiday.

HIQA conducted the inspection to make sure adequate safety measures were in place for the bank holiday.

"Ultimately what we found was the hospital was grossly overcrowded," Sean says.

"Essentially there were twice as many patients being accommodated in the unit as it was designed to hold."

"This is on the background of an unprecedented level of presentations to the hospital."

"So there were 290 patients who presented to hospital for treatment that day."

Mr. Egan says this number of people was having a "significant impact" on privacy, dignity and confidentiality of patients.

He also found concerns around staffing levels for nurses, and a deficit of staff on the day.

This was having an impact on the timeframes in which patients could be seen.

HIQA then escalated its concerns with the findings to the hospital and more widely to the HSE.

UHL has submitted a compliance plan in response to the findings and HIQA will continue to monitor the situation.

Photo: General views of University Hospital Limerick. Image: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

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