Internal investigation underway at University Hospital Limerick after death of 16-year-old girl

University Hospital Limerick

UL HOSPITALS Group has launched an internal investigation into the death of a 16-year-old girl who died in the chronically overcrowded University Hospital Limerick (UHL) three weeks ago.

There were 113 patients on trolleys in corridors and wards at the hospital on the day the girl died, January 29.

It is the second internal inquiry into the death of a teenage girl at UHL in as many years, after Aoife Johnston, from Shannon, County Clare, died after languishing on a trolley for 12 hours in the overcrowded emergency department (ED) in UHL in December 2022 after she developed meningitis.

The 16-year-old girl, who the Limerick Post understands is from County Limerick, who died suddenly on January 29, was rushed to UHL suffering from breathing difficulties, according to the Irish Independent.

The newspaper said it understood that the girl had been initially admitted to the hospital’s resuscitation area but was deemed well enough to be transferred to a trolley in a corridor.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

However, her condition reportedly deteriorated further and, following repeated pleas from the girl’s distressed mother, a doctor ordered she be moved back to the resuscitation area, where she was reportedly placed on a trolley in the middle of the room as there was no space in any individual berth.

Efforts by staff to revive the girl failed and she was pronounced dead.

Now, an inquiry has been launched into the circumstances surrounding the young girl’s death and the care she received at the hospital.

The girl was admitted with a severe chest infection in early January. She was treated for over two weeks and was discharged home, the Irish Independent reported.

Within days, the girl’s condition deteriorated and she was rushed back to hospital.

On the day of her death, January 29, UHL was by far the most overcrowded in the country with 113 patients on trolleys, including 54 patients on trolleys in the ED and 59 on trolleys on wards, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, the UL Hospitals Group offered its “sincere condolences” to the girl’s family on “their devastating loss”.

“We can confirm that a preliminary assessment has been carried out in line with the HSE Incident Management Framework and the findings from this assessment will be shared with the family pending the results of a post-mortem examination,” the statement continued.

Under the HSE Incident Management Framework, all major incidents are initially put through a preliminary assessment which then assist in classifying the seriousness of each incident. When a patient suffers harm it is regarded as a ‘Category 1’ incident and will be subject to a review.