Wednesday 13 December 2017

Beaumont 'failed to protect the dignity' of Parkinson's patient

Gerry Feeney was found in a 'distressing' condition
Gerry Feeney was found in a 'distressing' condition

Beaumont Hospital has apologised to the family of an 81-year-old man after an independent investigation found it "failed to protect his dignity".

The family of Gerry Feeney said he had been left in a "distressing and undignified condition" while a patient at the hospital last year.

They also told the Herald that the report "highlights the dreadful condition patients and staff endure on a daily basis", and are now seeking a meeting with Health Minister Leo Varadkar who previously described the case as "distressing".

Mr Feeney was photographed last December in a dishevelled state wearing a stained gown. The photos sparked outrage and highlighted the pressure on hospital emergency departments.


Following complaints by Mr Feeney's family, an investigation into the case was commissioned by the hospital and carried out by a team of independent experts.

The investigation report highlights a number of failings in the care provided to Mr Feeney, a former Aer Lingus worker from north Dublin, who died three weeks after he was discharged from Beaumont.

The investigation team found there was a failure by the hospital to implement its policies in terms of patient discharge and staffing levels in wards.

The report recommends immediate changes to the discharge and record-keeping policies at Beaumont.

Mr Feeney, who suffered from Parkinson's disease and issues with his heart and breathing, was admitted to the hospital last December 8. He was assessed and discharged back to his nursing home the following day.

The report says there was a breach of the hospital's discharge policy as it was unclear who made the decision to discharge. Hospital policy states only a senior doctor can make such a decision.

"For this reason he should not have been discharged," the report says.

It also says there was evidence of "poor communication and confusion" about who had responsibility for Mr Feeney's care.

Staff at the nursing home remained concerned for his well-being and he was readmitted.

On December 19, his niece, Ann-Maria Feeney, visited him in hospital. She told the investigation she found him "in a dishevelled state in a dirty gown".

She said his incontinence pad was open, leaving him exposed. She also said he was distressed and complained he was "being neglected".

Ms Feeney sought a nurse, but there was none in the bay where Mr Feeney was being treated in the Whitworth ward. The report said this was in breach of ward policy.

The report says it was "understandable" Mr Feeney's gown would be stained because of a tendency to drool, but the fact his "incontinence pad was undone and was left exposed is completely unacceptable".

"That was a failure to protect the patient's dignity," it says.


The report did not support all of the complaints made. It said the photo of Mr Feeney "was not a true reflection of the overall care of the patient" during his admission".

Mr Feeney's family last night said their "beloved Gerry" had been left in a "distressing and undignified" condition which still upsets them today.

They said the report highlighted a "worrying reliance by Beaumont Hospital on junior staff" and disputed a number of findings, including one that said Mr Feeney had not been left in the emergency department for a week.

Ann-Maria Feeney also thanked the Irish Patients' Association and its chief, Stephen McMahon, for their support.

Beaumont chief executive Liam Duffy apologised to the family in a letter.

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