At Coroner’s Court in Dublin an inquest has heard how a 67-year-old cancer patient died four days after she was permitted to discharge herself from the Mater Hospital due to overcrowding.
Family members, speaking following the inquest, said their mother, Elizabeth Leavy from Montpellier Road, Dublin 7 was left waiting on a hospital trolley for six hours. They, the family members stayed alongside her all evening but they were not aware her condition was so serious.
Her daughter Joy, speaking about the events at the Mater Hospital, said: “She was left in the hallway beside the bins. She was afraid, in pain, uncomfortable and she was hallucinating. She couldn’t stick it. We waited all night with her for test results and they told us she was okay. If we had of known they wanted to do more research we would’ve made her stay. She was left on a trolley in a hallway for six hours, a cancer patient, she’d had enough.
She described the pivotal role and position that her late Mother played in their family: “She was bubbly, fun, she saw the good in everyone and everything.”
Mrs Leavy. a mother-of-eight, who was first diagnosed with oral and bowel cancer in 2017, passed away four days after she discharged herself from the hospital. She was discovered at her home in an unresponsive condition on the morning of January 22 2018.
The inquest was told the Mrs Leavy’s death was caused by cardio-respiratory arrest due to multi-drug toxicity. The woman had toxic levels of the opiate based pain medications Tramadol and Oramorph in her system, which had built up over time. A post-mortem report indicated that the woman’s cancer was not active but she had chronic inflammation of the liver due to the accumulation of medications.
Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said: “These medications act centrally in the respiratory centre and it impedes your breathing. Your breathing stops and your heart stops and I think that is what happened that morning. The build-up of the medications in her system caused her death.”
Speaking in relation to the overcrowding at the hospital when Mrs Leavy was admitted Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Mater Hospital Dr Tomas Breslin said: “Overcrowded conditions bring a higher risk of dying. Every nurse and doctor knows this is a massive problem for patients, it affects their care and their outcomes. I reviewed [Mrs Leavy’s] notes in detail. There were questions we didn’t know the answer to and that would have been the reason for keeping her in the department. That being said, you can understand why, when there is no clear issue, a person would decide to leave”.
The coroner returning a verdict of misadventure, said: “She’d gone through a lot of treatment and seemed to be doing well. It’s very tragic, she obviously had a loving and attentive family”.