Unacceptable Standard of Medical Care in University Hospital Limerick

The recent figures from University Hospital Limerick (UHL) have brought to light a distressing reality—239 patients died on trolleys at UHL over a five-year period from 2019 to 2023. This alarming statistic, presented at the monthly regional health forum, has sparked serious concerns about the standard of medical care at UHL. As a law firm specialising in medical negligence, we believe it is crucial to address these figures and advocate for the necessary changes to improve patient care.

Alarming Figures and Their Implications

The Extent of the Issue

The data, presented in response to a question from Clare councillor Cillian Murphy, revealed that UHL had the highest number of deaths on trolleys compared to other hospitals in the region. Specifically:

  • 239 deaths at UHL
  • 195 deaths at Galway University Hospital
  • 150 deaths at Sligo University Hospital
  • 117 deaths at Mayo University Hospital
  • 108 deaths at Letterkenny University Hospital

These figures represent patients who were admitted to the hospital, a bed had been booked for them, but they remained in the Emergency Department (ED) when they passed away. Notably, these numbers do not include those who died before arriving at the ED or those critically injured patients brought directly to resuscitation.

The Human Cost

Councillor Murphy poignantly highlighted the personal tragedies behind these statistics. Each death represents a traumatic experience for families and friends, underscoring the critical need for intervention and prevention. He stated that “we need to see the hard facts about the figures so that changes can be made to reduce them as much as possible.” This call to action resonates deeply with patient advocacy groups and victims of medical negligence.

Factors Contributing to the Crisis

Overwhelmed Emergency Departments

One of the primary factors contributing to the high number of deaths on trolleys is the overwhelming volume of patients presenting at UHL’s ED. In the past year alone, UHL saw 80,052 emergency presentations. This year, up to May 9th, there have already been 30,642 presentations—a 12% increase from last year. This surge in patient numbers has put immense pressure on the hospital’s resources and staff.

Inadequate Facilities and Resources

The Friends of Ennis Hospital group have voiced their concerns, indicating that the data supports their call for upgrading Ennis to a model 3 hospital. This upgrade would alleviate some of the burden on UHL by providing additional support to both the staff and the patients. Currently, UHL is taking measures to relieve congestion, such as offering geriatric emergency care for those aged over 75 and expanding the operating hours of its medical assessment units at Ennis, Nenagh, and St. John’s. However, these efforts may not be sufficient to address the underlying issues.

The Legal Perspective: Medical Negligence

Understanding Medical Negligence

Medical negligence occurs when healthcare providers fail to meet the standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to the patient. In the context of UHL, the high number of deaths on trolleys could potentially be linked to inadequate medical care, delayed treatment, or lack of appropriate facilities.

Legal Recourse for Victims

Victims of medical negligence, or their families, have the right to seek legal recourse. This involves:

  • Documenting Evidence: Collecting medical records, witness statements, and other relevant documentation.
  • Consulting Experts: Engaging medical experts to review the case and determine if negligence occurred.
  • Filing a Claim: Initiating legal action to seek compensation for the harm caused.

Our law firm is committed to supporting victims of medical negligence and advocating for justice. We understand the profound impact that substandard medical care can have on individuals and their loved ones, and we are here to help navigate the complex legal process.

The Way Forward: Improving Patient Care

Immediate Actions Needed

To address the unacceptable standard of care at UHL and similar hospitals, immediate actions are required:

  • Increase Capacity: Expand hospital facilities and staff to accommodate the growing number of patients.
  • Enhance Training: Provide ongoing training for healthcare professionals to ensure they can deliver the highest standard of care.
  • Improve Triage Systems: Refine triage processes to prioritise critically ill patients and reduce wait times.

Long-term Solutions

Long-term solutions must also be implemented to ensure sustainable improvements in patient care:

  • Invest in Infrastructure: Allocate funds to upgrade hospital infrastructure, including expanding emergency departments and inpatient facilities.
  • Promote Collaboration: Encourage collaboration between hospitals, government agencies, and patient advocacy groups to develop comprehensive strategies for improving care.
  • Monitor and Evaluate: Establish robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track progress and identify areas for further improvement.

Conclusion: A Call to Action

The figures from UHL are a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the unacceptable standard of medical care in our healthcare system. As advocates for victims of medical negligence, we call on healthcare providers, government officials, and the community to work together to implement meaningful changes.

By increasing capacity, enhancing training, and investing in infrastructure, we can create a healthcare system that prioritises patient safety and delivers the highest standard of care. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that no patient endures unnecessary suffering due to systemic failures.

If you or a loved one has been affected by medical negligence, do not hesitate to reach out to HOMS Assist. We are here to support you and advocate for the justice you deserve.

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2-4 Ely Place, Dublin 2, D02 FR58


Bishopsgate, Henry Street, Limerick, V94 K5R6


1A South Mall, Cork, T12 PV44

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