The State’s health watchdog is investigating a “critical incident” at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.
A Hiqa spokesman confirmed it was “made aware” yesterday of an alleged incident that occurred in the hospital’s emergency department last Tuesday evening.
The claim concerns an 81-year-old patient currently in intensive care, who was found to be in cardiac arrest when the medical team came to review him on Tuesday evening.
It is understood the person who contacted Hiqa described the incident as critical.
However, a spokesman for Tallaght Hospital said it had not been notified of any report to Hiqa.
He said the hospital was satisfied there had been “no exceptional incidents” in its emergency department in recent days arising from staffing issues or resource pressures.
“It is continuing to manage a challenging situation and implement a response plan to deal with the pressures arising from seasonally high admittances and attendances,” he said.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation this week called on the hospital to cancel all non-urgent admissions to deal with the pressure on emergency services and beds.
A meeting with hospital management is to take place today to discuss staff concerns.
Tánaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore dismissed opposition party claims that Tallaght Hospital was unsafe and dangerous.
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, he said hospital chief executive David Slevin had stated that the health of patients was not under threat.
“I understand he has provided assurances that the situation is being managed and that the hospital is providing adequate patient care,” said Mr Gilmore.
He said the hospital had experienced an unprecedented surge in the number of people attending its emergency department but that the situation was continuing to improve.
Mr Gilmore said the number of people on trolleys had reduced to 19 yesterday and that 30 day-procedures had been cancelled over the past 48 hours. He added that the hospital was trying to fill a number of nursing vacancies.
Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who raised the issue, accused the Government of not listening to the people at the coalface.
Tallaght Hospital said “significant engagement” was taking place with the medical and surgical staff in implementing the plan to address current staff levels and maintain patient safety.
“While this is clearly an undesirable situation, it is not untypical at this time of the year. The cancellations are being carried out in a planned manner and patients are being notified in advance,” it said.
Stephen McMahon, the chairman of the Irish Patients Association, said the hospital should have plans in place to deal with seasonal surges.
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