Poor hygiene 'puts patients at risk'
Poor handwashing practices in many Irish hospitals is putting patients at risk of infection, according to new reports published by the State’s health watchdog today.
The series of hygiene and infection prevention reports published by the Health Information and Quality Authority finds wide variations in the cleanliness of different hospitals.
Arising from the reports, a number of hospitals have been asked to evaluate their level of hand hygiene compliance as it affects infection rates, in order to assess the impact on patients, Hiqa said.
According to the reports, three out of four clinical areas examined in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin were generally unclean.
Other hospitals criticised include the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick, South Tipperary General in Clonmel, Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe and Our Lady's Children's Hospital.
At Connolly Hospital in Dublin, a patient with a transmissible disease was placed in an emergency department cubicle for 30 hours. A similar problem occurred at South Tipperary General.
Unlocked clinical waste bins at the Mid-Western Maternity Hospital were placed on a thoroughfare for patients.
Phelim Quinn, director of regulation with Hiqa, said inspectors found hand hygiene actions were not always undertaken or carried out in the right way despite the efforts of the staff involved.
“We also found variations in how clean our hospitals are. Many facilities were observed to be clean and free from visible dirt and clutter, with appropriate infection control signage and practices in place, and the work of hospital staff should be acknowledged in ensuring high levels of hospital cleanliness that were found in some units.
“However, further improvements are still required in a range of areas and in some facilities we found dust and dirt on surfaces, soiled bedpans, worn and damaged furniture, black residue in shower areas, splash marks on equipment, and blood stains in various locations. There were also cases where the management of linen and healthcare waste was not in line with official guidance.”
The assessments identified immediate serious risks to patients, including the inappropriate accommodation of emergency department patients with other patients with communicable diseases.
“These kinds of deficits are not acceptable and required immediate action on the part of clinical and management staff concerned when Hiqa's officers were on site,” Mr Quinn said.
One unnamed facility has been asked to conduct a hospital-wide review of its compliance with national infection prevention standards.
Hospitals where concerns were raised about hygiene have been given six weeks to publish their plans to develop quality improvements that meet the national standards.