Five day wait for bed underlines major problems at Limerick hospital

A PATIENT who had to wait almost five days for a bed at University Hospital Limerick has been referenced in a Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) report that highlights major shortcomings in the country’s emergency departments.

And, in a major blow to hospital management, the report also found that the Limerick hospital was non-compliant with three of the four national standards set by HIQA and only partially compliant with the fourth.

The emergency departments at seven hospitals were assessed in the HIQA report and UHL was found to be not compliant nor even substantially compliant in any of the four national standards.

The health watchdog found that in one extreme example, a patient was waiting more than 116 hours for admission to a bed at the Limerick hospital and that it was not uncommon to find patients waiting between 80 and 90 hours for a bed.

An overview of the emergency department’s compliance with national standards found that UHL was non-compliant in protecting patients from the risk of harm associated with the design and delivery of healthcare services.

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The UHL emergency department was also found to be non-compliant in managing the workforce to achieve high quality, safe and reliable healthcare.

It was also non-compliant in respecting and promoting patient dignity, privacy and autonomy.

The Limerick emergency department was only partially compliant in managing, supporting and promoting the delivery of high quality, safe and reliable healthcare services.

A judgment of non-compliant means that one or more findings indicated that the relevant national standard was not met, and that this deficiency is such that it represents a significant risk to people using the service.

Partially compliant means that the service met some of the requirements of the relevant national standard while other requirements were not met. These deficiencies, while not presenting immediate significant risks, may present moderate risks which could lead to significant risks for patients if not addressed.

Throughout 2022, HIQA introduced a new monitoring programme of inspections in healthcare services against the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare. As part of the initial phase, HIQA’s core assessment in emergency departments focused on key standards relating to governance, leadership and management, workforce, person-centred care and safe and effective care.

HIQA Healthcare Director Sean Egan said that the findings from this new programme of inspections, continues to highlight that overcrowding in emergency departments compromises the dignity and respect of patients, and poses a risk to health and safety of patients.

“Improvements are needed to ensure that there is a balanced approach to the daily operational management of patient flow, capacity and appropriate staffing, which is clearly linked to patient safety and activity.”