Patients at Tralee hospital at immediate risk of infection - Hiqa

Report finds bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease a threat at Kerry General Hospital

Hiqa says the physical environment in the operating theatre of Kerry General Hospital has not been maintained. Photograph: Google street view

Hiqa says the physical environment in the operating theatre of Kerry General Hospital has not been maintained. Photograph: Google street view

 

Patients at Kerry General Hospital are at immediate high risk of infection from a poor physical environment and the threat posed by the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, according to a new report.

The Health Information and Quality Authority wrote to the hospital in July outlining issues which may present a “serious risk to the health or welfare of patients, visitors and staff” and which were identified in an unannounced inspection.

Hiqa says the physical environment in the operating theatre has not been maintained according to standards to reduce the risk of infection to patients. Despite this being a long-standing issue for years, it hasn’t been addressed.

“Overall the operating theatre complex was dilapidated with several areas of ceilings, walls, woodwork, and floors significantly damaged, worn and non-intact to the extent that they could not be cleaned effectively, and [this]facilitated the production and accumulation of dust.”

It says these findings are “unacceptable” in any clinical area but are of particular concern in high risk clinical areas such as operating theatres.

Space in the oncology unit was very limited with intravenous medication being prepared in inappropriate locations adjacent to a sink and entrance doors.

The report says the Tralee hospital does not have robust mechanisms in place to provide assurance that potential risks in relation to Legionella in the hospital water system had been effectively assessed, identified and managed.

The hospital is not compliant with standards for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infection 8 in respect of legionella risk management.

Some improvements were noted when Hiqa inspectors carried out a follow-up inspection in August and the authority acknowledged the hospital had relocated the oncology day unit temporarily and had plans to renovate the operating theatre and reconfigure the oncology day unit.