A hospital that delayed a 21-year-old woman's operation after she missed a phone call about the procedure has this evening apologised for its actions, and launched an internal review of how her surgery slot was given to another patient.
Emily Larkin, from Lucan in Co Dublin, was scheduled to undergo an operation on her toe in the coming weeks.
Ms Larkin, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis which leaves her prone to infections, has already undergone four surgeries on her feet, with at least two more due to follow.
She had been referred for her next operation in Tallaght University Hospital, where she has been receiving treatment for her condition for the past four years.
“I had received a letter regarding the operation which was due to happen in the next two to three weeks, and they said they would be in touch,” she told the. “I’d been prioritised because it was an in-house referral, and because of my medical history.
"But I wasn’t expecting a phone call at all. They have asked me to confirm surgical appointments maybe 24 or 48 hours beforehand, but never this far in advance,” she said.
Ms Larkin, a third-year primary school teaching student at DCU, said she had received a missed call from a Tallaght hospital number and rang them back.
“They said I had missed a call to offer me a date for surgery, and that because I missed it I had been put to the back of the waiting list, that they had given my date away for the surgery to someone else,” she said.
She said the receptionist who had called said she would hopefully hear from the hospital again sometime in July.
In a statement, the hospital said: "Tallaght University Hospital does not comment on individual patient cases. Generally, the hospital’s waiting lists are managed in line with national guidance — this includes notifying the patient of their admission date by phone, letter and text.
"However, at times where a last-minute appointment becomes available due to a patient cancellation, the slot will need to be filled urgently to ensure the slot is not lost. In this scenario, an alternate patient will be contacted by phone."
After the hospital's response last night, Ms Larkin said: “Tallaght Hospital have since rang me to apologise over what has happened and that they will be reviewing the situation internally to ensure something like this doesn't happen again,"
"I was incredibly grateful that they acknowledged this and took action over my concerns and my experiences at the hospital.”
Because of the nature of Ms Larkin’s condition, which she has had since she was 13, she is prone to infections in her toes. The coming operation had been to remove her toenail in order to ensure no infections had taken hold from her previous surgeries.
“I have a compromised immune system. I get a lot of infections, and every time I get one I have to come off my medication and go on antibiotics,” she said.
“I’m literally looking down at my toes every morning to see if there is any sign of infection.”
She said that having the surgery cancelled “isn’t life-threatening, but I have arthritis, it affects how I walk, and there is always the risk of gangrene or sepsis”.
“The ideal would be to get the surgery sooner rather than later.”