A young Clare man suffering from a collapsed lung claims he was left “crying in pain” for hours at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and was forced to contact the ambulance control centre to get medication.
Michael McCarthy, a 24-year-old from Clarecastle, was rushed by ambulance to UHL on Friday at 5am where a tube was inserted as part of an emergency surgical procedure.
Mr McCarthy has a medical condition that causes blisters on his lungs, which regularly burst, resulting in the collapse of his lungs since he was 21.
Mr McCarthy said he requested pain relief from hospital staff by pressing a patient buzzer on Saturday morning from 8.30am to 1pm, but was unable to get any health professional to administer it.
He said hospital staff told him they would be back with pain relief in a few minutes. However, this never happened.
"I was crying in pain so I had to ring the ambulance service to try and get them to help me because the hospital wasn’t helping me.
“There were tears rolling down my face. I rang 999 at around 1pm, I spoke to ambulance control and told them I was in severe pain and they rang the hospital. I finally got pain relief at approximately 1.15pm.
Mr McCarthy also expressed grave concern about chronic overcrowding he said he witnessed first-hand in the ED at UHL.
“It is an absolute joke what was happening in the accident and emergency department. There aren’t enough doctors and nurses to look after patients in the ED."
“People were begging to be taken to the toilet for two or three hours.
“People were crying in distress for hours because they were bursting to go to the toilet and were afraid they would soil themselves.
“I saw another woman with a split head who was calling for help in the ED for about 20 minutes,” he claimed.
The UL Hospitals' Group said it was unable to comment on individual cases, due to its ethical and legal obligations to respect and protect the privacy of all patients who attend hospitals, and of their staff.
A spokesperson said any patient dissatisfied by their experience is encouraged to make an official complaint in confidence via Your Service Your Say at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The spokesman admitted significant demand on the emergency department in recent days has contributed to long wait times.
"The group apologises to all patients currently facing long wait times in its ED."