The Coroner’s Court was informed in Dublin today that a 67-year-old mother of eight died just four days after she discharged herself from the Mater Hospital as she was unable to cope with the overcrowded condition.
Cancer patient Elizabeth Leavy from Montpellier Road, Dublin 7 discharged herself from the Mater Hospital after she had been on a trolley, waiting to be admitted, for six hours. She was kept company by members of her family all evening but they were not aware her condition had deteriorated so badly.
Mrs Leavy, a mother-of-eight, was initially diagnosed with oral and bowel cancer in 2017. Sadly she passed away on the morning of January 22 2018, four days after she discharged herself.
The inquest at the Coroner’s was told that Mrs Leavy’s death happened as a result of cardio-respiratory arrest which was caused by multi-drug toxicity. The woman was experiencing toxic levels of the opiate based pain medications Tramadol and Oramorph in her system, which had intensified over time. A post-mortem report revealed that her cancer was not active when she passed away but she was suffering from chronic inflammation of the liver due to the accumulation of medications.
Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane commented: “These medications act centrally in the respiratory centre and it impedes your breathing. Your breathing stops and your heart stops and I think that is what happened that morning. The build-up of the medications in her system caused her death.”
Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Mater Hospital Dr Tomas Breslin, told the inquest about the overcrowding at the hospital when Mrs Leavy was waiting to be admitted. He said: “Overcrowded conditions bring a higher risk of dying. Every nurse and doctor knows this is a massive problem for patients, it affects their care and their outcomes. I reviewed [Mrs Leavy’s] notes in detail. There were questions we didn’t know the answer to and that would have been the reason for keeping her in the department. That being said, you can understand why, when there is no clear issue, a person would decide to leave”.
The coroner returned a verdict of death by misadventure: “She’d gone through a lot of treatment and seemed to be doing well. It’s very tragic, she obviously had a loving and attentive family”.
Mrs Leavy’s daughter Joy, speaking on behalf of the family, said: “She was left in the hallway beside the bins. She was afraid, in pain, uncomfortable and she was hallucinating. She couldn’t stick it. We waited all night with her for test results and they told us she was okay. If we had of known they wanted to do more research we would’ve made her stay. She was left on a trolley in a hallway for six hours, a cancer patient, she’d had enough.”
Joy described her mother as someone who was “bubbly, fun, she saw the good in everyone and everything.”