95yo left on hospital floor

An incident in which an elderly woman was left lying on the floor for hours in a Tasmanian emergency department has revealed a medical system under enormous pressure.

The 95-year-old woman, who has not been identified, presented to the Royal Hobart Hospital emergency this week in a wheelchair, but was forced to lie on the floor for two hours when no beds were available.

The mother of a fellow patient was disturbed at seeing the elderly woman lying on a bunch of towels, and photographed the incident.

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“She didn’t speak or move when she was there, she just lay there,” the woman told The Mercury.

“She was quite unwell by the look of her. I’m not sure how long she was waiting before we got there, but she was still there four hours later when we were seen.

“Her family asked whether she could have a pillow to put under her head and a blanket was brought out and rolled up.

“It was pretty disgusting really. There was another younger girl aged about 16 lying on the floor as well.”

Dr Tim Greenaway, Tasmanian boss of the Australian Medical Association described the image as “reflective of a system that was not coping”.

“Tasmanians are waiting longer than anyone for surgery that, although is titled elective, is in fact necessary and impacts heavily on emergency load in public hospitals,” he told the newspaper.

“What it shows is that year after year Tasmanians have a public health system that is under pressure and the situation is getting worse. We need appropriate funding from Commonwealth and State governments.”

The hospital confirmed the incident, saying 147 emergency patients had presented that night and the department has been overrun.

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