Deirdre Fitzgerald

Consultant in Respiratory Medicine and Integrated care

Deirdre Fitzgerald

Deirdre Fitzgerald works at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) as a Consultant in Respiratory and Pleural medicine. (In medicine, pleural refers to the thin covering that protects the lungs.)   She also works from the Respiratory Integrated Care Hub in the community which is linked to TUH.

Innovation Projects 

Since starting at TUH, Deirdre has been working with the Innovation Team to look at efficient, technology-supported ways of improving patient care. In that vein, she collaborated with a private IT company, to enrol patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) onto a virtual platform where they will be followed for early signs of deterioration, enabling earlier intervention to reduce hospital presentations.

Deirdre also drove the process to make it possible for doctors to prescribe more green inhalers by ensuring they were included in the hospital medicines guide. She also changed our most commonly dispensed inhaler to a more sustainable version, a move which aims to halve the hospital’s inhaler-related carbon footprint.

Finally, in her role in the Integrated Care Hub, she has established a paperless service using an electronic form with diagnostics stored on a shared drive, accessible only to hub staff.


Deirdre says, “Innovation to me involves coming up with new ideas and devices but also developing new approaches to the use of established interventions. Optimising patient care through more efficient use of available resources and harnessing the creativity and technological advances available in other fields outside of medicine is my main motivation. The new software programme I am using for my patients, for example, harnesses an established virtual platform currently in use for heart efficiency and applies it to patients with COPD.”

Biggest learning 

The Respiratory Consultant says, “Working with the innovation team has taught me that when a problem is identified, I need to turn it upside down, look at it from all angles and consider alternative approaches rather than following the status quo, to find innovative solutions. I would advise anyone to start by defining the problem in detail, identifying stakeholders and making a process map and root cause analysis. This helped me to find gaps in the service that I was unaware of. Also, ask colleagues and stakeholders for their thoughts on your idea – consider a brainstorming session if a few people are interested and of course, Get advice from the Innovation Team!”

Future innovations

Deirdre is currently working on a project looking at using a handheld ultrasound device in the community to identify comorbidities (when a person has more than one disease) in patients who are referred to the Respiratory Clinic. She says, “The goal is to have a nurse specialist trained in lung ultrasound using a simple five minute examination to identify any alternate diagnoses requiring onward referral. On a larger scale, the respiratory department is working on a project to incorporate an AI tool into radiology assessment of lung nodules, to reduce the number of CT scans performed.”