Bureaucratic Red Tape

The quality of care in medical institutions in the county has been called into question in recent weeks as a number of Tipperary Star readers have outlined experiences which were significantly less than satisfactory.

The quality of care in medical institutions in the county has been called into question in recent weeks as a number of Tipperary Star readers have outlined experiences which were significantly less than satisfactory.

The latest incident involves a lady who was involved in a traffic accident, the upshot of which was that her vehicle overturned, with both herself and her four month old child inside.

She immediately rushed to Nenagh General Hospital, fearful that the collision may have seriously injured her baby but was, she says, told that it was not Hospital policy to treat infants.

The appalled lady instanced her disbelief and distress at the fact that she could not be told that her child had, or more importantly had not, suffered any serious injuries. She tells how she begged to be reassured that her child would not die as a consequence of the very serious collision she had been involved in.

The entire experience must have been a nightmare for the mother of this four month old child. She was right to seek immediate medical attention and was correct in her assertion that the Hospital staff should have been able to reassure her that her baby was going to be okay. With a child so young, incapable of demonstrating the distress she may have been in, it was essential that she be seen as expeditiously as possible and that it be quickly ascertained whether she had suffered any internal injuries.

That the staff at Nenagh General Hospital are not permitted to do so is inexplicable. We have no doubt that this is as a result of constraints which have been placed upon them. They have always proven to be most professional and helpful to the many thousands of patients they have treated over the years and it must have been very difficult for them to refuse the request made of them by a very distressed mother.

Rules in relation to the safe treatment of patients are essential – we do not doubt that – but it seems absurd when a patient so young presents at a hospital such as the Nenagh facility that policy dictates that an infant cannot be treated. The injuries which a baby so young could have sustained in a traffic accident such as this had the potential to be lethal and to be asked to travel to another medical facility is unconscionable.

In situations such as this surely common sense prevails. Imagine the horror if this tiny young child had sustained serious injuries and had succumbed to them on the journey from Nenagh to another hospital. Thankfully that did not happen in this case but should it occur in the future the uproar which will ensue will be wholly justified.

There are times when rules must be set aside and the welfare of the patient becomes the only priority. This is one of them. Minister Reilly and his Department should amend the protocols to permit qualified health personnel to deal with situations such as this with the sensibility and practicality which they deserve.

It was a horrifying experience which this lady should never have had to endure. Let us hope that others who may find themselves in similar situations in the future do not have to countenance such nonsensical, bureaucratic red tape.