Criticism in case of Kilmore woman who died on trolley

A KILDARE coroner has criticised the HSE after hearing how an elderly woman, who once resided in Kilmore Quay, had died after a 36-hour wait on a hospital trolley.

Coroner Denis Cusack vowed to write to HSE chief Brendan Drumm to raise the issue of overcrowding in the country's A&Es after an inquest into the death of 86-year-old Maureen Prendergast.

Mrs. Prendergast lived in Straffan, Co. Kildare, but had lived for a number of years in Beak, Kilmore Quay, when she and her late husband Michael retired to the fishing village.

In latter years, Mrs. Prendergast returned to live in Straffan, but maintained a strong affection for Kilmore Quay and returned frequently to visit.

She died in Naas General Hospital in March 2009 as a result of a heart problem, and following an earlier fall in her Kildare home.

However, the inquest heard how the elderly patient had spent 36 hours on a hospital trolley, and was one of 31 patients without a bed in Naas hospital in the run up to her death.

Dr. Cusack expressed concern at the inquest, which was attended by Mrs. Prendergast's daughter Philomena Nicholl and her sons Leo and Eamon, that an elderly patient had endured such a long waiting period for a bed.

'I will be writing to Brendan Drumm of the HSE outlining this as a matter of concern,' said Dr. Cusack who noted that ' the problem has not gone away and it puts families in a very difficult position, the medical staff and, of course, the patients'.

During the course of the inquest, which was heard over four days, Naas hospital had to deal with 'bed issues' throughout 2009, with a particular demand on resources during winter months.

Clinical nurse manager Sr. Fiona McDaid described the bed issue as a 'daily struggle'.

During the course of the inquest the Prendergast family had expressed concerns about their mother's treatment, from her accommodation to her nutrition and care.

The coroner recorded a cause of death of cardiac arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat, complicated by a brain injury and Mrs. Prendergast's earlier fall at her home.

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