INVESTIGATION INTO PENSIONER’S TROLLEY DEATH

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AN investigation is continuing into the death of a former Cookstown man who is said to have been left on a hospital trolley for 22 hours before being discovered by medical staff.

The 77-year-old former Moveagh man was named locally as Thomas Quinn and there was public outrage when it was revealed last week that he had died - apparently unnoticed - by staff in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department earlier this month.

Health Minister Edwin Poots was due to announce yestedrday (Wednesday) how his department will confront problems in the busy A and E unit.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has already begun an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Quinn’s death, and this week the BBC said an agency nurse employed at the Royal has not returned to work since the probe began.

The Trust has offered to meet the dead man’s partner, who last week spoke to the Irish News about the distressing incident.

The woman said the pensioner had gone to the hospital in the early hours of Monday March 5 suffering from chest pains. He had been diagnosed with motor neuron disease a year-and-a-half earlier.

The woman stayed with her partner for most of Monday and left that evening while he slept on the trolley. She said that while she was there the man had been given antibiotics and intravenous fluids but had not received much attention from staff.

A few hours after leaving the hospital the woman called to check on her partner’s condition, but was told by staff that he had died and they had mislaid the contact number she had given them before she left.

She said: “I rang them and a nurse told me they had mislaid my number and had no alternative but to send policemen to tell me he had died. As she was speaking to me on the phone two policemen came to the door.”

She spoke of her disgust at the way her partner died.

“When you care for someone, you look after them and feed them and wash them - and to think of him just lying there...it just really upsets me to think he died alone on a trolley with no dignity and with no-one holding his hand,” she said.

The trust’s Medical Director Tony Stevens said the investigation will ensure the situation is examined thoroughly.

“It is my understanding that he was not dead, he was in need of resuscitation and this happened,” said Dr Stevens. He added that it is important to await the conclusions of the investigation rather than assuming what had happened. “It is important for both the family and also for members of staff who will be feeling this very keenly,” he said.

After the story broke the BBC also alleged that a suggestion may have been made by a member of staff that the patient’s hospital notes should be changed to indicate that he had been checked more frequently.

It said Mr Quinn’s notes showed that he was checked at 3am but nothing further was added to his notes until he was found dead around 5am.

Once a patient is admitted, their vitals including pulse and blood pressure are supposed to be taken every 30 minutes.