Almost a third of Covid cases in Tallaght hospital contracted there, Hiqa finds

Report is critical of actions taken by hospital to separate virus and non-virus patients

Hiqa inspectors found the screening of patients arriving in the emergency department for Covid-19 did not take place until registration.

Hiqa inspectors found the screening of patients arriving in the emergency department for Covid-19 did not take place until registration.

 

Thirty per cent of Covid-19 cases in Tallaght University Hospital were contracted there, according to a report critical of actions taken by the hospital to separate virus and non-virus patients.

The hospital experienced virus outbreaks last year, with five still ongoing at the time of the Health Information and Quality Authority inspection last December.

Inspectors found the screening of patients arriving in the emergency department for Covid-19 did not take place until registration.

“This was not in line with HSE guidelines and presented a potential weakness to the rapid identification and streaming of patients into Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 pathways,” Hiqa says.

“In addition, controls in place in the emergency department to limit entry points, reduce entry to accompanying adults, ensure adequate cleaning resources and reduce risks associated with staff crossover were insufficient.”

Inspectors found measures to prevent crossover of staff between Covid and non-Covid streams were not in place in the ED, while Covid resuscitation bays were not “functionally separated” from non-Covid bays, thus increasing the risk of infection.

The risks identified by inspectors “did not provide assurance that measures implemented to address (them) were either effective or sufficient”.

Up to June 2020, 373 patients and 291 staff members tested positive for the virus. Between March and June last year, the hospital experienced 11 outbreaks in 10 wards, whose duration varied from 29 days to 63 days.

During the first surge of the pandemic, 30 per cent of cases were “hospital-associated” and linked to 10 wards.

Responding to Hiqa, hospital management said it had taken action to address the findings identified by inspectors. However, additional resources would be need for a dedicated medical team for the Covid-19 pathway and this would have to be approved at hospital group level.

Management said limited space in the emergency department was a barrier to assessing patients for the virus before the triage stage.

The hospital has increased security at the entrance of the emergency department and is conducting patrols on the grounds, especially around the main entrance.

As well as the report on Tallaght, Hiqa on Thursday published inspection reports on Covid-related infection prevention and control in Wexford General Hospital and University Hospital Kerry.

The watchdog says the hospitals have undertaken a significant amount of work to implement measures that will mitigate and manage the risks involved.