Asthma patient discharged herself from 'unsafe' crowded hospital 

Asthma patient discharged herself from 'unsafe' crowded hospital 

Rachel Murray has described how she had to discharge herself from hospital as she feared her condition would worsen after spending the night in an overcrowded corridor. Picture: Asthma Society of Ireland

A young teacher with severe asthma has described how she had to discharge herself from hospital as she feared her condition would worsen after spending the night in an overcrowded corridor.

On Monday, Rachel Murray was advised by her GP to attend the emergency department at Galway University Hospital as she was having an asthma attack.

She presented at 8.30pm and was treated around 2.30am, although in the past her condition meant she received almost immediate treatment.

“I had emergency IVs, steroids and back-to-back nebulizers to try and get my airways to open, I shouldn’t have been left that long waiting for that,” she said.

It is not fair on staff, what they have to deal with. You can see they are so over-worked.

Rachel was admitted as a patient but was forced to wait for a bed and was moved to a corridor at 6am.

“I was put in a really narrow hallway, there were five trolleys in front of me with people on them, and on the side another two bays with trolley-beds,” she said. She saw two elderly people spend most of the night on chairs.

Rachel told the Irish Examiner she has been on trolleys overnight before but never in such a crowded situation.

 I had no real issue with the trolley at first, but during the day it was really busy. People were constantly coming and going.

She had to use her own portable nebuliser as there were no sockets on the corridor for nurses to plug in the hospital’s equipment.

Breaking point

Around 3pm a drunk person was brought in; not wearing a mask, “coughing and spitting” at staff, she said.

“At that point, I decided I wanted to discharge myself, it wasn’t safe there for someone like me,” she said. “There was a constant stream of patients, we were on top of each other. Trolleys were banging into each other. It was just chaos for the nurse.” 

Staff tried to convince her to stay, but agreed ultimately she could leave with a new prescription.

A spokeswoman for University Hospital Galway said 282 staff were absent from Friday for Covid-related reasons. The hospital apologised for “significant delays” experienced on Tuesday especially, and she said they are “seriously impacted” by an extremely high number of Covid-19 patients.

Earlier this week the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation described the emergency department at the Mercy University Hospital as “overcrowded, chaotic and dangerous”.

Yesterday there were 416 patients on trolleys or chairs unable to get a hospital bed across all hospitals, the INMO said.

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