Call our freephone helpline to find out about medical negligence   1-800 989 988

Inspectors Find Hygiene Problems in Hospitals

Inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority have published a series of reports identifying hygiene problems in hospitals which could result in patients developing serious infections.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is an independent authority which examines the quality, safety and accountability of the health service in Ireland. Under health legislation, these standards are applicable to services provided by or on behalf of the Heath Services Executive (HSE), as well as services provided by nursing and independent care homes – with particular scrutiny on services for children, older people and persons with disabilities.

In June, HIQA conducted a series of inspections, and found serious hygiene problems in hospitals in Ireland. Their reports have just been released, with the five hospitals most seriously in breach of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections being identified as:-

Waterford Regional Hospital

Among a litany of hygiene issues, HIQA inspectors discovered that patients with suspected communicable diseases were accommodated in the main area of the emergency department (because the isolation room was being used as a storeroom), that the hand hygiene of staff working in the Emergency Department was inadequate and risked spreading healthcare associated infections to other patients, and that the Emergency Department environment – and the equipment used in it – was generally unclean.

Navan Hospital

The authority found that the Emergency Department at Navan Hospital (with some exceptions) was generally unclean, and that it was not effectively managed to reduce the spread of infections. There were also hygiene problems in the hospital´s female medical ward – where patients and visitors were not adequately protected from the risk of healthcare associated infections.

Portiuncila Hospital

In Portiuncila Hospital in Ballinasloe, inspectors found an inadequate management of risk infection in breach of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections and also that uncontrolled access was allowed to hazardous clinical waste material. There was also a failure to utilise security measures already in place to prevent access to medical equipment by the general public.

St Michael´s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire

At St Michael´s Hospital, inspectors found hygiene problems in the hospital´s toilets and showering facilities for patients – where mould had been allowed to develop – and identified that hand hygiene practices were generally inconsistent with the National Standards and posed a risk of transmitting infections to patients.

Louth County Hospital

Finally, at Louth County Hospital, medical care being provided in isolation rooms in a stepdown ward was not compliant with national hygiene standards, and inspectors discovered two cases where patients with known transmissible infections were cared for in isolation rooms where the doors onto the general ward were left open as standard practice.

The five establishments above that have been identified as having hygiene problems in hospitals will be required to develop a quality improvement plan which should be published on the hospital´s website within six weeks.

Read More

Support Groups Disagree over Compensation for Symphysiotomy Operations

Groups representing the victims of medical procedures carried out in Ireland between the 1940s and 1990s, to aid childbirth as an alternative to a Caesarean Section, have publicly disagreed about the right path to take in order to recover compensation for symphysiotomy operations.

Following a meeting with Minister for Health James Reilly at the beginning of the month, Patient Focus and SOS Ltd issued a joint statement in which they supported a proposal by James Reilly to determine compensation for symphysiotomy operations through a negotiated mediation with a judge rather than litigation in the courts.

However, speaking at a Survivors of Symphysiotomy emergency general meeting in Dublin, chairperson Marie O´Connor declared that the proposed scheme is exploitative and they do not want to be involved in it – stating that the system proposed by James Reilly “seeks to buy their silence”.

Comparing it to a Magdalene-type solution, Ms O´Connor claimed that Minister Reilly´s proposals were based on the draft findings of the Walsh Report due to be published in the autumn, in which it was determined that the majority of the symphysiotomy operations that were carried out were “medically acceptable” at the time.

Ms O´Connor said that Minister Reilly is yet to openly admit that a wrong had been committed and called on the government to proceed with legislation removing the Statute of Limitations for symphysiotomy claims, which first passed its Private Members Bill stage back in April, but has since failed to progress to committee stage.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy are seeking compensation for symphysiotomy operations of between €250,000 and €450,000 for each victim and have argued that, by not acknowledging that hospitals and medical practitioners were negligent when performing symphysiotomy procedures, the government is denying victims access to justice and a “fair and equitable” settlement of their claims.

Read More

Most Compensation Claims for Primary Care Negligence are for Missed Diagnoses finds Report

A report prepared by the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has found that most compensation claims for primary care negligence are for missed or delayed diagnoses.

The “The Epidemiology of Malpractice Claims in Primary Care: A Systematic Review” – published recently in the British Medical Journal – was compiled by a team lead by Dr Emma Wallace with the objective of identifying where the focus should be targeted in future risk management systems and educational strategies for primary healthcare workers.

The report found that the most common reason for compensation claims for primary care negligence were claims against GPs and front-line doctors in hospitals for the missed or delayed diagnosis of cancer – specifically colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the female genital tract – medication errors (administration errors and prescription errors) and, in medical negligence compensation claims for children, the failure to correctly diagnose appendicitis and meningitis.

Dr Wallace – who is herself a GP – acknowledged that compensation claims for primary care negligence were not the ideal tools against which to measure adverse events in primary care environments, but commented that when medical negligence claims are made against GPs and front-line doctors, the medical practitioners against whom the claims are made often experienced increased stress levels – reducing their effectiveness, and placing more patients at risk of a misdiagnosis or medication error.

The report also highlighted that GPs are more commonly practicing defensively because of the risk of litigation if they make a mistake and consequently referring a higher proportion of patients to consultants rather than make a diagnosis themselves. This unwillingness to make – and act on – the diagnosis of a cancer can lead to patients´ conditions deteriorating unnecessarily and ultimately put more pressure on an under-resourced Irish health service.

Dr Wallace hoped that her team´s “review”  provides an insight into the nature of adverse events in GPs surgeries and hospital outpatients departments and the reasons for them happening, which would reduce the number of compensation claims for primary care negligence in Ireland and have the knock-on effect of improving the standard of primary care provided.

Read More

Family Claim Compensation for Fatal Bath Accident in Hospital

The father of a woman who died due to a lack of nursing care is to make a claim for compensation for a fatal bath accident in hospital following an inquest into her death.

Amy Hauserman (26) died two days after voluntarily being admitted to the psychiatric unit of Melbourne´s Frankston Hospital when – according to Coroner Peter White – she either lapsed into unconsciousness or slipped while trying to get out of the bath she had allowed to take without supervision.

At the inquest into her death, the Coroner was critical of the fact that Amy had been allowed to take a bath without a risk assessment being conducted or without consulting her consultant. He found that one nurse on the ward was not even aware that protocol for allowing psychiatric patients to take a bath existed, while the Head of Nursing gave precise details of how supervised baths should be managed.

Returning a verdict of from death due to “a hypoxic brain injury in a setting of immersion”, Coroner White said that the fatal bath accident could not have happened if a nurse had been present who could have rescued Amy and that it was an “appropriate response to this tragic episode” that the hospital no longer allowed patients in its high dependency psychiatric ward to take unsupervised baths.

After the hearing, Amy Hauserman’s father said “We are relieved the failings by Frankston Hospital have been recognised by the Coroner. But these findings confirm ours and the Coroner’s belief that if the hospital had looked after Amy better and showed her the due and proper care she deserved, she would still be with us now.”

He confirmed that the family would be making a claim for compensation for a fatal bath accident in hospital against the Mornington Peninsula Health Service, who was not prepared to comment on the case, but who said in a statement “Peninsula Health is deeply saddened by the death of Ms Amy Hauserman. We have expressed condolence to the Hauserman family on a number of occasions since Amy’s death.”

Read More