Family seeks answers over father’s death

A woman has said her family demands answers from the HSE about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death in University Hospital Waterford’s (UHW) emergency department (ED), writes Joe Leogue.

Jimmy Power, aged 66, died of a cardiac arrest having been admitted to UHW in April with complications from his existing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Despite difficulties breathing, Mr Power was sent to a waiting room, and not allocated a bed for monitoring. Two-and-a-half hours later he complained to staff he was feeling unwell, suffered a cardiac arrest, and died.

Staff at the hospital subsequently wrote to both management and the HSE to air their concerns following Mr Power’s death, in emails seen by the Waterford News & Star newspaper.

The newspaper quoted Brendan McCann, ED Clinical Lead, stating that Mr Power was sent to reception because “there was no clinical space to admit him to”.

“The fact that the doctors and nurse in charge had no available option but to send him back to the reception area is a damning indictment of the available resources in the ED,” the email from Dr McCann stated.

Mr Power’s daughter Edel Tahran yesterday spoke to 96FM’s Opinion Line from her home in Ladysbridge, Co Cork. Ms Tahran said her family met with the medical team to discuss her father’s death after his funeral.

“The doctor couldn’t look me in the eye when he said they were short staffed,” Ms Tahran told the radio programme.

“I asked him: ‘Could my dad have survived, could you have seen something happening to him, if he was on a bed being monitored?’ and he didn’t know.

“We have that going around in our heads all the time. This never left our minds, the waiting, the waiting, the waiting. It is absolutely tormenting my mom, it still does to this day, and she needs reassurance a couple of times a day.”

Ms Tahran said her family has gone public in a search for answers.

“If we can do something about this, his death won’t be in vain and maybe someone will stand up and take responsibility,” she said.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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