At 1.50am on July 21, 2019, a young woman named Eve Cleary (21) from Corbally, Limerick died at University hospital Limerick (UHL)
What was outlined at her inquest is not just harrowing for her family but also a disgusting reflection on this hospital.
On July 19th, Eva attended UHL with a swollen right leg after she fell in Limerick City. Eva then spent 17 hours on a hospital trolley in the emergency department (ED) with only her hoodie for a blanket the entire time she was there.
According to the Irish Examiner, Eva’s trolley was one of dozens more cramped together in a corridor of the ED, where a “record” number of patients were waiting for beds, the inquest heard. It is worth noting that this hospital is regularly overcrowded in ED. For instance, on one day this week it had the second most patients on trolleys according the the INMO Trolley Watch website.
Eva presented with a number of risk factors for thrombosis and blood clots, including being on a contraceptive pill that specifically increased the risk of blood clotting. She was a smoker, was overweight, and there was a history of blood clots in her family. Having spent 17 hours on a trolley, she was finally given a bed on a ward.
The Examiner reports that an inquest heard her patient files were “missing” and the nurses did not seem to know why she was in hospital. The hospital were operating on a skeleton staff and there was no staff available to operate the ultra-sound equipment.
Eva’s parents gave evidence to the Inquest about the conditions of the hospital. When they visited their daughter in the hospital they found her on a trolley near a sink that had been used as a toilet. Melanie Sheehan Cleary said “the smell of urine caught in your breath and made you cough”.
Despite being in an at-risk category for blood clots, Eva was not assessed for risk of blood clots and was not seen by a consultant, although a report of a CT scan of her leg, was read by the hospital’s on-call consultant orthopaedic doctor.
The inquest heard that Eva’s leg had swollen “three-and-a-half times” its normal size while in the hospital, and that it turned dark red “like the colour of a Christmas ham”.
Eva was discharged with a suspected soft tissue fracture. Just four hours after she was discharged from UHL, Ms Cleary went into cardiac arrest at her family home. Eva was rushed to hospital by ambulance back to UHL and was pronounced dead at 1.50am, on July 21.
The post mortem found the cause of death was due to cardiac arrest due to extensive bilateral thrombo-embolisation or clots that had blocked her lungs.
According to the Examiner, John McNamara, Coroner, returned a verdict of medical misadventure saying there were “missed opportunities” in Ms Cleary’s case, however, he stressed this was not to fault anyone involved in her care.
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