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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Medical units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) have been identified as potential accidents waiting to happen – after an independent inspection found half a dozen emergency exits were blocked by trolleys, chairs and equipment.
A Health and Safety Authority inspection report – published in the Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI) – has warned the West’s largest hospital of a series of legal breaches, including in its temporary emergency service.
In addition to blocked emergency exits, the HSA has highlighted issues with guidance given to staff on the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) to guard against biohazards, such as Covid-19.
The HSA warned UHG that there was “no ventilation” in the Covid-positive emergency department waiting room (red flow) and criticized UHG for its signage, which was inadequate and could “result in a inadvertent exposure to a biological hazard or agent”.
UHG management said it had taken steps to address overcrowding issues with blocked emergency exits, but acknowledged it was “difficult to ensure compliance is maintained at all times.”
The HSA wrote to UHG last November, following an inspection of the unit on October 21, and described a series of health and safety law violations.
In correspondence published in the Tribune, the HSA said the HSE Fire Prevention Officer advised UHG of their fire safety concerns as early as August 2021, but the issues highlighted “were not fully resolved. ” at the time of the HSA inspection. in October.
In an improvement notice to UHG, HSA Inspector Paul Pearson said he observed a number of blocked emergency exits and exits.
He discovered that the emergency exit door from the pediatric emergency department was blocked; he found extra carts obstructing the main exit route from the Acute Surgical Assessment Unit, which was being used as a non-Covid emergency department; the emergency exit from the acute surgical assessment unit was obstructed; the emergency exit and corridor route were obstructed outside the Short Stay Ward and Acute Medical Assessment Unit; two additional exit routes at the Acute Medical Assessment Unit were “obstructed by extra seating and equipment.”
The improvement notice warned UHG to “ensure emergency routes to emergency exits are unobstructed at all times.”
In an official response, Chris Kane, CEO of UHG, listed steps the hospital has taken to improve the dangerous situation highlighted by HSA.
But she acknowledged that using carts had become part of everyday life in the Acute Surgical Assessment Unit, which operated as a green or non-Covid emergency department.
This is an abbreviated version of this article. To read the rest of the report and the HSE’s response, see the 13 May edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.