More patients could be eligible to make hospital infection claims for compensation following health inspections at five Irish hospitals which were found to be in breach of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections.
Inspectors from the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) made unannounced visits to several hospitals throughout Ireland in June and July and the reports of their inspections have just been made public. The reports reveal a catalogue of breaches in the National Standards which would make patients, visitors or staff who contracted an illness eligible to make hospital infection claims.
The five hospitals in which there was a serious lack of hygiene among the medical and nursing staff were:-
Waterford Regional Hospital
Waterford Regional Hospital, in which inspectors discovered eighteen cases of poor hand hygiene among the twenty-three cases they looked at, patients with suspected transmittable diseases being treated in the general area of the Accident & Emergency Department and a general lack of cleanliness in the hospital A&E Department and the equipment that was used in the hospital.
St Michael´s Hospital
At St Michael´s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, inspectors discovered two unhygienic temperature probes – one was visibly unclean and the second had a sticky residue on its screen – and that mould had been allowed to grow in the hospital´s toilets and showering facilities for patients. The inspectors also reported that hand hygiene practices in general posed a risk of transmitting infections to patients.
At Portiuncila Hospital in Galway inspectors found that hospital infection claims could be justified for a number of reasons including problems with the physical environment, waste management and the cleanliness of medical equipment used on patients.
Louth County Hospital
Inspectors visiting Louth County Hospital discovered two cases of patients with known transmissible infections placed in isolation rooms with the doors left open onto the general ward and hand hygiene was again identified as an issue which could result in hospital infection claims, with inspectors recording in their report “The physical environment and equipment were generally unclean . . . and therefore were not effectively managed and maintained to protect patients and reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections.”
Our Lady´s Hospital
The Accident & Emergency Department at Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan was found to be generally unclean – with the patient toilets´ walls being described as “heavily stained” – and a high risk of infection was identified in the hospital´s female medical ward, where access to the storage room which contained syringes and needles was “uncontrolled”.
Rob Landers – clinical director of Waterford Regional Hospital – described the findings in the report as “unacceptable” and said that compulsory hand hygiene training would be introduced for all workers at the hospital. Waterford Regional Hospital has been given six weeks to develop a quality improvement plan and publish it on the hospital website.