PATIENTS waiting for orthopaedic surgery at Cork University Hospital’s trauma unit are being told to repeatedly fast ahead of planned surgeries that are then cancelled.
Over a period of 13 days, a 64-year-old woman was told to fast eight times for surgeries that were subsequently cancelled.
The woman’s daughter, Evelyn Crowley, described how her mum shattered her humerus and shoulder and was left without the use of her arm.
She was left waiting on a bed in the trauma ward for 13 days, and her surgery was cancelled eight times.
Each time she was told she was getting the surgery, she fasted during the day in preparation. However, hours later she was told that the surgery had been cancelled.
The family feel there is a breakdown in communication between patients and staff and the fasting could be avoided in many cases.
“Eight times my mam’s surgery was cancelled. She arrived in hospital on Thursday, August 22. She spent one night on a trolley, and was put in a bed in the trauma ward on Friday.
“The longer we were there, we realised there were serious issues,” Evelyn told The Echo.
“All the patients are in the same boat. They are told to fast, then their surgeries are cancelled.
“They are told an emergency or life-threatening situation comes up. I understand if it is an injured child or an emergency, they will be seen to first, but I don’t understand why there are so many cancellations.
“She had an arm injury, I know she is lowest on the list of priorities, but she was in agony,” Evelyn said.
“On day nine, Friday, August 30, she was fasting and they told her to get into a hospital gown as her surgery was that evening. She hadn’t eaten in 24 hours. Then her surgery was cancelled again. There are serious management issues. My mother has lost weight in there. There were older people there, people in their eighties who had bad falls or dementia. There are people up there crying.
“There’s not enough staff. The people who are there are at breaking point. All surgeries are called off at 11pm, after people fasting all day, and they just get tea and toast.”
Evelyn’s mother had her surgery on Wednesday and was discharged on the same day.
“She was saying to the doctor that she wasn’t sure she’d be able to manage. She lives alone. She has plates and bolts in her arm.
“But they needed the bed, so she was sent home. She’s just mentally drained.”
When asked for comment, CUH said: “Regrettably some scheduled surgeries are cancelled to facilitate urgent trauma surgery. Patients fast in preparation for scheduled surgery, as the urgent trauma cases are unplanned, staff are unable to predict surgery cancellations.”