Lack of ‘crash cart’ at unit

An unannounced inspection of a mental health unit for elderly patients found there was no access to a ‘crash cart’ despite some having conditions that increase the risk of cardiac arrest.

In breach of regulation, residents of Cappahard Lodge on the outskirts of Ennis, Co Clare, did not have access to an emergency trolley or an automated external defibrillator, used to treat sudden cardiac arrest.

An inspection by the Mental Health Commission last December said this lack of access was against a backdrop of some patients “receiving psychotropic medication and/or having diabetes, which increases the risk of a cardiac arrest”.

Moreover, inspectors said residents at the HSE-owned home were taken to University Hospital Limerick 40km away in the event of an emergency. Management said this was because “unfortunately”, the emergency department at Ennis hospital was only available to residents during normal working hours and that all emergencies had to be directed to UHL between 8pm-8am “in line with national policy”.

Since the inspection, an emergency trolley with an AED has been installed at the home.

While there were a number of areas of non-compliance, the inspection report was nonetheless mainly positive.

Residents interviewed by the inspectors all said they liked Cappahard Lodge.

An inspection of St Catherine’s Ward, a 21-bed mental health unit for continuing care on the grounds of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Cork City, found that nurses know the residents well and care for them with respect and dignity. However, inspectors said the two storey-building is “not designed for the care and treatment of persons with a mental illness”.

The HSE said significant refurbishment and related building works are underway.


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