Not impressed by doctors apparent attitudes

Two doctors failed to help injured man because they were not on call

Nurse Breda Mc Evoy leaving the inquest on the death of Christopher Marianayagam who died in Portlaoise General Hospital in June 2011. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Nurse Breda Mc Evoy leaving the inquest on the death of Christopher Marianayagam who died in Portlaoise General Hospital in June 2011. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Diabetes nurse says she sought help for patient in Portlaoise hospital

Paul Cullen

Wed, Oct 29, 2014, 00:30

First published: Wed, Oct 29, 2014, 00:30

Two doctors at Midland
Regional Hospital in Portlaoise declined to come to the aid of a patient who had collapsed in the hospital because they were not on call at the time, an inquest has heard.

Diabetes nurse Breda McEvoy said she was going on a late lunch on June 7th, 2011, when the patient, Christopher Marianayagam (71), collapsed near the front door of the hospital.

Mr Marianayagam had been taken to the hospital by ambulance earlier in the day after feeling unwell at home and had just been discharged from the emergency department.

Ms McEvoy, who had treated Mr Marianayagam in the past for diabetes, told his inquest yesterday she was going on a late lunch when the incident occurred. “I heard a noise, a thud, like someone hitting the ground. I turned around and the patient was on the ground.”

She ran into the diningroom to get help and approached two doctors. “I said that someone had collapsed outside by the door and would you come out and help.”

Medical attention

Ms McEvoy said she got no response and so asked the question again. The two doctors told her they were not on call and did not provide assistance.
She ran back to the patient and found he was receiving medical attention from other staff and was being transported to the emergency department.

Roger Murray, solicitor, for Mr Marianayagam’s family, said Ms McEvoy was so concerned assistance was not forthcoming that she had completed an incident report form.

This stated that “two female medical doctors called from diningroom to assist patient. Advised they were not on call and did not leave table in diningroom”.

Ms McEvoy said it was policy to complete such a form where a slip or fall occurred.

Mr Murray applauded Ms McEvoy for her “courage and honesty” in filling out the form and said this was the only way things could be improved. Asked if she had received any feedback on the form since, Ms McEvoy said she had not.

As his condition deteriorated, the family, who are Catholic, prayed at his bedside. This is recorded in hospital notes, which read “daughter present, patient reciting religious verses and prayers”.

Mr Marianayagam’s daughter, Ingrid Francis, said she took objection to this as her family is “Catholic, the same as the majority of Irish people.”

She added: “The fact that we were praying with my father seems of little relevance and displays poor understanding on the part of the nurses and doctors treating him, that they were not aware we were actually practising rites which ought to have been familiar to them.”

Mr Marianayagam’s GP, Dr John White, said his patient had a history of falls requiring attendance at the hospital. He lived alone but wanted to be with his family.

He said it was very unusual for someone to want to move back to the direct provision centre at the Montague Hotel but he wanted to be with his family.