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Mother wants investigation after son’s hospital trauma


Pic: ©The Mayo News

Saolta admit MUH still under ‘significant pressure’

Michael Gallagher

A Mayo mother is looking for answers after her family’s harrowing recent experience in Mayo University Hospital. The distraught parent says her 22-year-old son could have died without the intervention of three members of staff who had to take it upon themselves to care for him after a traumatic, frustrating and unspeakable period spent in the hospital.
“After our experience there, I can honestly say if you’re an elderly person or come from a family who cannot fight for you, as we had to fight for our son, then something awful could happen.
“We’re lucky. Our son is alive, he’s home and he will improve, but we literally had to fight to keep him alive after being admitted with mouth ulcers a few days earlier,” said the mother, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Health chiefs at Mayo University Hospital are currently blaming Covid, the large number of people presenting for treatment and the recent cyber attack for problems in patient care, as complaints from the public continue to rise.
In a statement to The Mayo News, The Saolta University Healthcare Group said MUH is under ‘significant pressure’ with record numbers of patients in the Emergency Department (ED).
Saolta say the hospital is struggling to cope with the situation and they are urgently seeking more staff and resources.
“There are more people presenting for ambulatory care and for episodic care. There are also more people coming in for deferred care because of either Covid-19 surges, cancellations or as a result of the recent cyber-attack. Many patients in the ED are being admitted with complicated illnesses, complex care-needs and require longer stays in hospital. All the while, the number of Covid-19 infections in the community is growing and resulting in hospitalisations.
“In addition to the volume of activity, the throughput of scheduled care has been reduced throughout the pandemic due to the need to operate the hospital with two different pathways – one for patients with Covid-19/suspected of having Covid-19 and one for those without – and the need to social distance in all waiting rooms and clinics. There was further disruption to scheduled care as a result of the cyber-attack which caused additional delays to delivering patient treatment and care,” the Saolta statement said.

Family traumatised
However, those words cut no ice with the distraught mother who detailed what her son had gone through. The saga began on Friday, July 23, and ended on Wednesday, August 11, a period which has left the family traumatised, as the mother explained to The Mayo News.
“Our son was admitted to Mayo University Hospital on Friday, July 23 with mouth ulcers which meant he couldn’t swallow. He hadn’t been able to eat since the previous Wednesday and was dehydrated and in severe pain. In A&E we were put into what I can only describe as a broom cupboard with sheets and blankets and buckets and it took eight hours before he received pain relief and was then sent home with a prescription.
“We went to my local pharmacy to get the medicine, but they couldn’t read the prescription and the hospital had to be rang again to send another one – all this time my son was at home in bed deteriorating.
“On Sunday, he was getting worse and worse and WestDoc said we had to go back to hospital again. The doctor couldn’t believe we had been sent home in the first place. We were extremely worried at that stage,” she explained. However, their troubles were only beginning.
“When we presented at A&E the second time, the nurse on duty would not allow me answer for my son, although he couldn’t speak or swallow. He had to text all his answers and was moved inside to a trolley.
“He kept us informed by text and on Monday was moved to a private room in Elderly Medicine as they were afraid he might have Covid symptoms. It was then our nightmare really began.

Lack of communication
“The lack of communication coming out of the hospital was impossible to deal with and despite having huge respect for Covid regulations, we were left with no alternative but to sneak in to see him.
“On several occasions I found him in a completely saturated bed because he couldn’t swallow and the saliva was pouring out of his mouth. The pain was getting severely worse, he was having nose bleeds and vomiting up bile. We could see how critical the situation was but felt we were being constantly fobbed off.
“On the Monday morning, around 3am, we started receiving random text messages which led us to believe he was extremely confused and disorientated and then he started to phone us but couldn’t make any sounds. We rang the ward and the nurse said he was comfortable.
“Later, we got a call from a nurse to say his temperature had severely spiked and if we wanted to come and wait outside the front door of the hospital, a doctor would come and talk to us. We went there immediately and waited outside for an hour but nobody came to us.
“We couldn’t just wait there and do nothing so took it upon ourselves to go in and I will never forget what we found. I honestly feel our 22-year-old son was in severe danger. We refused to leave until he received proper care and within an hour everyone and anyone came to speak with us.
“That night a truly amazing nurse and a young doctor came on duty and a consultant, not involved previously in his care, looked after my son and I believe they saved his life. His mouth and throat were so swelled he was struggling to breathe and those three people gave their night to save him.

Terrible state
“Our son, who had presented eight days earlier with mouth ulcers, was now in a terrible state. Those three staff refused to go off shift the following morning until he was admitted to ICU. They fought and fought for him and once the ICU team came and saw him he was admitted quickly and efficiently.
“The staff in ICU were magnificent and insisted he be admitted to the ward under the care of (University College Hospital) Galway. He spent three nights there and began to improve, but the original problem he had been admitted with had now manifested itself into several other issues.”
The young man’s situation continued to improve and he was moved to UCHG on the following Friday and remained there until Wednesday, August 11, when he was discharged. The family are extremely grateful to all who cared for their son and the neighbours, friends and local pharmacy in their area, but they say the difference between Mayo University Hospital and University College Hospital Galway is stark.
“The difference is unbelievable. If you cannot fight for yourself or you haven’t someone to fight for you in Castlebar then something awful could happen. We want an investigation into our son’s care and we want answers,” the mother added.