Review into man’s death of sepsis two days after discharge from Limerick hospital

Michael Cuddihy (76) was sent home after spending 18 hours on a trolley in severe pain

A review has begun into the care of a 76-year-old man who died from sepsis two days after being discharged from University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Michael Cuddihy spent 18 hours on a trolley waiting to be assessed after being admitted on November 20th, 2023 as a result of vomiting and severe pain.

Later that day he was told he had a stomach bug and was free to go home. However, he asked to stay overnight as he was feeling unwell.

Hospital records seen by RTÉ Investigates show that Mr Cuddihy was discovered vomiting overnight by nursing staff. The notes also record that he had a raised temperature with no apparent follow up by staff.


He was discharged on November 21st and died two days later from sepsis as a result of a trapped gallstone.

His death came 11 months after 16-year-old Aoife Johnston died from sepsis in UHL after waiting for more than 15 hours on a trolley.

“I just don’t understand how after the death of a 16-year-old girl, they cannot go all out to ensure that this does not happen to somebody else, whatever age they are. They clearly didn’t learn from that,” Mr Cuddihy’s daughter Anne told RTÉ.

“It really beggars belief that you call an ambulance because you’re feeling very, very sick and you go into a hospital which is supposed to be a safe place where you think you’ll be looked after and cared for, and you’re actually just sent out of there and sent home to die,” she said.

UHL confirmed that Mr Cuddihy’s care while he was in the emergency department is being examined under the HSE’s Incident Management Framework.

“A preliminary assessment has been completed and shared with the family. A number of recommendations were made and additional improvements identified following the meetings with the Cuddihy family,” a hospital spokesman said.

He said the recommendations from the preliminary assessment have been implemented in full while a systems analysis review is also being carried out concerning Mr Cuddihy’s care.

“Not every tragic outcome will have the same attributes and the incident management framework allows us to provide some answers to patients and families and to improve our services after the evidence has been considered in full.

“As Michael’s death is also the subject to a coroner’s inquest, it is at this forum that the cause of death will be established. Out of respect for the family and for the due process at the coroner’s office, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time,” the spokesman said.

The hospital expressed its “deepest condolences” to Mr Cuddihy’s family on their “unimaginable” loss. “We are conscious that there are no words we can express to console them at this time,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said there was a deficit of two nurses in the emergency department on the night of the admission while adding that UHL “absolutely recognises” the increased risk to patient safety arising from chronic overcrowding.

“To address this, we continue to increase staffing levels; expand alternative care pathways to reduce ED attendances and admissions; refine patient flow processes and add interim capacity solutions pending the completion of the two 96-bed inpatient blocks planned to be delivered at UHL over the next three years,” he said.

Jack White

Jack White

Jack White is a reporter for The Irish Times