Limerick hospital confusion left girl in pain for six days

The Mental Health Crisis Liaison Service is based in the emergency department at UHL.

A MOTHER who had to go to University Hospital Limerick three times to get a scan for her daughter, leaving her in pain for six days, is angry that no-one at the hospital seemed to know what was the right thing to do with a fifteen year old.

Iris Duffy brought her daughter, Elizabeth Horgan, to the emergency department on a Saturday night in October with stomach pains.

She waited six hours in the paediatric emergency department before being told she would have to return to the Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU) for an ultrasound scan.

The following morning, Ms Duffy, from Seven Oaks on the Kilmallock Road, received a call to say the SAU does not deal with patients under 16 and advised her to return to the emergency department.

She and Elizabeth arrived once again at 9am, eventually getting to see a gynaecologist nine hours later before leaving for a second time with no scan.

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“The paediatric area was so full, he had nowhere to examine her. He apologised and asked me if we would mind coming into the adult section,” she told the Limerick Post.

“To be honest, if he suggested the car park we probably would have agreed we were so fed up.

Ms Duffy said she was appalled at the conditions she witnessed in the emergency department, both adult and paediatric.

In the paediatric unit, she said, “only one parent could accompany each child”.

“Most were mothers with quite ill babies, with pushchairs or car seats, and big bags containing all the stuff you would need to care for them.

“I observed mothers trying to juggle babies on one arm while trying to get to the triage room. Babies getting sick on themselves and no other person to support them, even to go to the toilet or just someone simply to take the baby to give the tired mother a rest.”

Ms Duffy said that when the gynaecologist arrived she “explained how SAU don’t do ultrasounds on children under sixteen”.

“He was unaware of this, as was his colleague on Saturday night.”

Elizabeth eventually got the scan the following day but Ms Duffy is angry that she was in pain from Saturday until Thursday “because common sense is lacking with regards to the communication between departments. ”

When the Limerick Post put the issues to the hospital, a spokesman said: “UL Hospitals Group cannot comment on individual cases due to our ethical and legal obligations to protect the privacy of all patients who attend our hospitals and our staff”.
“However, the patient experience described is not the standard of care we wish to provide and we apologise to the patient and her family.
“It’s evident that there was a breakdown in communication around the organisation of an ultrasound test, and steps are being taken to address this.”