Slippery conditions cause upsurge in fractures

Emergency departments across the Midlands have reported an upsurge in the number of people with fractures caused by the recent spell of severe weather.

Hospitals in Mullingar, Tullamore, and Portlaoise have all been inundated with patients who have fractured bones, with emergency medicine consultants reporting that a high percentage of the fractures are complex and require surgery.

Between January 2 and 6 this year, some 67 people presented with fractures at Mullingar hospital’s emergency department, compared with 52 during the same period last year. Tullamore hospital reported 75 fractures during the same period this year, compared with 50 the previous year, while the contrast was even more marked in Portlaoise hospital where the figures were 81 for this year and 57 the previous year.

The minimum increases in the number of people presenting nationally with fractures in the last week were in the order of 30 per cent, with a large number of hospitals across the country experiencing a year-on-year increase for the period of 70 per cent or more.

Local HSE services, including emergency departments, ambulance services, community services, and GP services have been working tirelessly over the past number of weeks to ensure services were delivered under the challenging circumstances.

HSE regional director of operations, Gerry O'Dwyer, acknowledged the dedication and commitment shown by staff in the Midlands, and the support from other agencies in helping to continue to provide services. “Services continued as normal in the hospitals and a considerable effort was given by all those in the community, including ambulance drivers and public health nurses, who ensured that those most at risk from such conditions were contacted and assisted,” he said.

“This cooperation of staff helped to ensure that patients who needed travel for essential treatment got to their appointments and that urgent medicines was delivered to patients living in inaccessible areas. In addition, efforts were made by the HSE, with the co-operation of the voluntary services, to ensure that HSE staff working in the community continued to provide clients with services such as home help, meals on wheels, community nursing services etc.”

Ambulance, community and hospital staff offered to work additional shifts and braved snow and ice to ensure that they were available to respond to the needs of patients.

Robert Morton, chief ambulance officer for the Midlands, said, “Severe weather and road conditions across the Midlands made last week particularly challenging for the service. However, the dedication of Ambulance Service staff, Civil Defence, the Defences Forces, and the Red Cross, along with assistance from helpful members of the public, has meant the service has been able to deliver a safe and as swift a service as possible in challenging circumstances."


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