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Woman 12 hours waiting for emergency surgery after late ectopic pregnancy diagnosis

A woman experiencing horrific stomach pain and unable to walk or sit had to wait over 12 hours in the Emergency Department in Galway for emergency surgery after she was belatedly diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.

The case of ‘Niamh’ was raised in the Dáil by Sinn Féin Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell, who urged Tánaiste Micheál Martin to lift the recruitment embargo, blaming the lack of staff for conditions likened by the pregnant mum to a war zone in University Hospital Galway a month ago.

Niamh told Deputy Farrell: “At one point I thought, I’m going to die.”

She attended the ED at 6am on a Tuesday and was not triaged for over an hour. Her bloods were taken but she was not seen by a doctor for five hours. She provided a urine sample which was left sitting on a cart for collection for two hours.

A blood test came back showing elevated white blood cells and an infection was suspected. The pain drug Keral was about to be administered by a nurse when another nurse rushed at her shouting: “You are pregnant, you can’t be on this painkiller while pregnant.”

“Panic ensued as to how much she had been given,” the Galway City TD told the Dáil.

It took seven hours to be referred to a gynaecologist when the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy was raised and it was another 90 minutes before she underwent an emergency scan which revealed her uterus was full of blood.

“Niamh’s emergency surgery would not happen until 6.45 pm, 12 hours after she first presented. Niamh’s partner was told the operation would take 1.5 hours but it took more than three hours due to significant internal bleeding.”

Niamh told the Sinn Féin representative: “I’m lucky I went in early in the morning, if I had gone later, I don’t know if I’d still be here… People are dying needlessly in our emergency departments. I could have been one of them. We need change. What’s it going to take?”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin described Niamh’s “horrific and traumatic journey” at the biggest ED in the west of Ireland as “shocking”.

But he said throwing more money or staff at the problem would not solve the issues.

“All-of-hospital buy-in with a multidisciplinary presence in emergency departments is key, as is the proper rostering of emergency departments to ensure consultant presence in our emergency departments over extended times. The public-only consultant contract we have supported and financed is making a difference in that respect,” he told the Dáil.

Pictured: The Emergency Dept at UHG.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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