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Tyrone hospital fall death woman's family had feared for her safety on ward, Rosaline McEneaney inquest told

Daughter raised concerns about staffing levels and height of her bed

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 27/05/2016

Nuala Mulholland with a picture of her mum Rosaline McEneaney
Nuala Mulholland with a picture of her mum Rosaline McEneaney
Rosaline McEneaney

The family of an elderly woman who died hours after falling from her hospital bed had said they didn't feel their mother was safe while being treated in the ward, an inquest has heard.

Concerns over the standard of care at the South Tyrone Hospital were voiced by the children of Rosaline McEneaney (86) during the inquest, which started in Belfast yesterday.

Mrs McEneaney, from Armagh, died in September 2012. Described as a "very independent" woman, she had previously suffered a number of heart attacks and had been admitted to hospital in ailing health.

The mother-of-five had been losing weight and a CT scan was requested.

A delay in the results, however, meant Mrs McEneaney remained in a ward where she fell twice in five days - the second resulting in her being rushed to A&E, where she died hours later.

A post-mortem examination was performed by Dr James Lyness and the preliminary cause of death was identified as "probable metastatic lung cancer, intracerebral haemorrhage, fracture left neck of femur and ischaemic heart disease".

At the inquest held before Coroner Joseph McCrisken, the family said they were worried about staffing levels on the ward.

They also had concerns the bed in the ward was raised too high for their 5ft mother to safely sleep and rest in.

The coroner was told that Mrs McEneaney had been regarded as a "high risk" of falling after being assessed by occupational therapists.

When Mrs McEneaney was admitted to the hospital on September 21 her daughter Nuala Mulholland said she first became concerned when she arrived to find her mother "wandering around the corridor" with a walking stick. "She was very hyperactive and concerned," Mrs Mulholland said.

She brought her back to bed, but the family were also worried that the ward was understaffed as buzzers for patients trying to alert staff were "constantly" ringing.

When the issue of the bed level was raised with the nurses it was explained it had to be that height in order to hang a catheter bag, as they had run out of catheter stands.

Mrs McEneaney had her first fall on September 24 and had told her children she had hurt the right side of her head.

Medical staff had not witnessed it and she was discovered by occupational therapists lying on the floor of her room.

There were no signs of any injury and she was helped up to a chair.

However, four days later while waiting for CT scan results, Mrs McEneaney had a second fall and suffered a broken hip and a head injury.

She was taken to A&E, but later died.

Her family were devastated.

Mrs Mulholland said: "It was very, very busy.

"Nurses and doctors were actually running from patient to patient."

It was at the hospital where they discovered the CT test results revealed their mother had terminal cancer. Mrs Mulholland, who complained to the Southern Health and Social Care Trust in October 2012, said if they had known, they would have brought their mother home to "die with dignity".

A doctor who helped to treat Mrs McEneaney after the fall failed to include the injury to her head in a referral letter to the coroner's office.

Dr Paul McMullan explained how busy the hospital had been and accepted that it should have been included.

Mr McCrisken said it was now a "learning point".

Mrs Mulholland said that the family's grief was still "indescribable".

At hearing.

Belfast Telegraph

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