Hospital hygiene standards criticised

Hiqa raised concerns about hand hygiene at Cork, Letterkenny, Wexford, Sligo hospitals

Wexford General Hospital: the subject of 13 recommendations after it was found to be partially compliant with the standards. Photograph: Patrick Browne jnr

Wexford General Hospital: the subject of 13 recommendations after it was found to be partially compliant with the standards. Photograph: Patrick Browne jnr

Sat, Apr 27, 2013, 06:00


Hygiene standards at four regional hospitals have been strongly criticised by inspectors from the State’s health watchdog.

The Health Information and Quality Authority yesterday published audit reports into hygiene at Cork University Hospital Group, Wexford General Hospital, Letterkenny General Hospital and Sligo Regional Hospital.

Cork University Hospital Group was found to be only partially compliant with national standards and inspectors made 11 recommendations.

They expressed “significant concern” about the use of antibiotics, saying corporate and clinical governance on this issue was not robust enough.

According to the authority, there was little evidence to demonstrate a deep level of executive commitment to good hand hygiene and no evidence that managers were responding effectively to concerns over low interest in hand hygiene training.

No audits
The group did not submit data to the HSE’s national hand hygiene compliance reports in 2011 or 2012, they noted. There were no infection control environmental audits or surgical site infection rate audits.

Inspectors found that a culture of hand hygiene practice was not embedded at all levels and there was “resistance” to attending educational sessions on the issue.

The report says Mallow General Hospital had been only marginally integrated into the group in terms of preventing hospital-acquired infections. This was of particular concern given the authority’s highly critical report on the hospital in 2011. However, the clinical areas inspected in Cork University Hospital, Cork Maternity Hospital and Mallow were generally clean.

Wexford General Hospital was the subject of 13 recommendations after it was found to be partially compliant with the standards. Clinical areas were generally clean but the authority said there was little evidence to demonstrate a deep level of commitment among managers to improving hand hygiene.

Corporate and clinical governance did not demonstrate effective leadership aimed at preventing hospital-acquired infections.

An unannounced inspection of Sligo Regional Hospital found much evidence of non-compliance with national standards. Equipment and furniture was worn and damaged and paintwork was chipped.

Unclean equipment
Inspectors found that the physical environment and patients’ equipment were unclean and hand hygiene was poor. A follow-up inspection is planned within the next six months.

At Letterkenny General Hospital, three clinical areas were assessed as unclean. Inspectors found that a culture of good hand hygiene was not “operationally embedded” and this poses a “clear and significant risk” to patients of acquiring an infection.