University Hospital Limerick has apologised after a Limerick pensioner had to endure the trauma of “hearing the saw that cut the bone in his leg” during an amputation.
On top of this, it emerged that Peter Stapleton, aged 77, picked up a superbug at UHL.
Mr Stapleton “languished in an isolation ward” for three months, according to family correspondence with the hospital.
He was treated as an inpatient for severe vascular issues in his right leg at UHL last October. He presented as an inpatient once again in November, and was discharged the following month with stents inserted to assist blood flow.
His daughter Lynda, who urged UL Hospitals Group to investigate her father’s treatment, wrote on April 18 that after his discharge he “suffered immense pain” at home.
In January 2017, Mr Stapleton was rushed to the emergency department after he fell and injured himself. All the while “gangrene had set in”, she wrote.
Following re-admission on January 31, a below-the-knee amputation on his right leg was carried out in late February. His daughter said that an above-the-knee amputation was later required on April 12.
However, during this surgery, Mr Stapleton was not given headphones and was forced to listen to his upper leg being cut off with a saw.
His daughter said in an e-mail on April 18: “This was inhumane and has traumatised him.”
UHL wrote to his daughter on May 29 that this was performed under a local anaesthetic block, and not a general anaesthetic, to “ensure patient safety is not compromised”.
“The operating theatres do provide headsets for patients for this type of procedure, I do apologise your father was not offered or supplied with headphones as this is normal practice.
“I am sorry he had to endure this unnecessary trauma and I have advised the theatre nurse manager for this to be addressed immediately,” UHL wrote.
After it emerged that Mr Stapleton had contracted the CPE superbug at UHL, he was then transferred into the 2D isolation ward.
CPE has a 50% mortality rate for those who are infected, while carriers of the bug show no signs or symptoms.
Ms Stapleton said her father’s isolated treatment had a major “personal impact” on the family, and she said that communication was “brutal”.
She claimed that he was put on a waiting list for rehabilitation at St Camillus’ Hospital for weeks.
She said her mother had to be taken to UHL in recent weeks with “chest pains” as a result of the stress surrounding Peter’s care over the past three months.
“I will never forgive them for that, for the three months they wasted. I don’t know where my Dad would be if there was no one there to speak for him. ”
Mr Stapleton was discharged on Tuesday. His daughter commended the nursing staff who treated him during his six-month treatment.
After UHL looked into Ms Stapleton’s complaints, it wrote on May 29: “I wish to apologise for your father acquiring this infection and assure you we make every effort to avoid outbreaks, but on certain occasions it does occur and for this I am sorry.”
A spokesperson for UL Hospitals Group said that it is aware of the family’s concerns and it continues to address them through the ongoing complaints process.
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