Senator Ned O’Sullivan calls for hotels to fit walk-in showers after fall

Senator Ned O’Sullivan

A Fianna Fáil senator is calling for all hotels to be fitted with walk-in showers after a fall in a bathtub shower left him with serious injuries.

Senator Ned O’Sullivan from Kerry spent more than a month in hospital after the fall three years ago which left him with a fractured sternum, 13 broken ribs, a punctured left lung, and the loss of the use of the lower left lobe of his left lung.

He suffered the injuries after slipping in the bath while taking a shower in a hotel he was staying in with his wife.

Mr O’Sullivan described the incident as a “helpless fall” which saw him suffer severe injuries.

“I went to take a shower,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke programme. “There was no walk-in shower in the bathroom so I climbed into the bath and used the shower attachment. The bath was very high and narrow. It was obviously intended to be a bath rather than the floor of a shower.

I couldn’t get any purchase and I slipped badly. It was a helpless fall, I sustained very serious injuries including a fractured sternum, my chest bone, and I broke 13 ribs, many of them multi-fractured. I punctured my left lung and lost the use of the lower lobe of my left lung.

Mr O’Sullivan described how he fell backwards onto an old-fashioned mixer tap but that he did not hit his head, which could have led to more serious injuries. He spoke of grabbing the shower curtain, which came down with him.

“If I hit my head I wouldn’t be talking to you,” he said. “I hit between my shoulder blades... My wife was out of the hotel at the time. I know I was unconscious for a little period. When I came to, she was just coming back into the hotel. She had been doing some shopping and found me helpless and in a bad way. I wasn’t able to breathe. I was in a bad way. She alerted the services.”

The senator was taken to hospital in Tralee and then transferred to Cork University Hospital, where he was in intensive care and spent time on a respirator.

“There was a lot of work done to try and save the lung,” he said. “There was a lot of pain involved. I spent a month in hospital and two months in recuperation.”

Mr O’Sullivan said he waited a number of years to raise the issue as he did not want it to be seen as part of a compensation claim, which he has decided not to pursue. He said he chose not to pursue a claim because he “didn’t want to be seen setting an example”.

“When I had the accident a couple of years ago, even though I hadn’t gone public, everybody in Kerry knew about it,” he said.

I was approached by many, many other people who had similar accidents or their parents had or elderly people in particular. When I spoke in the Seanad last week, I received a high number of emails, phone calls, texts, it was unbelievable.

Mr O’Sullivan has called on hoteliers involved in new builds or refurbishments to include walk-in showers.

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