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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.

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