Tallaght hospital limits visitors over superbug outbreak

Wards closed as patients with antibiotic-resistant CRE are tracked

The outbreak of Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) at Tallaght Hospital has forced the closure of at least two wards and has resulted in a number of patients testing positive for the bug. Photograph: The  Irish Times

The outbreak of Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) at Tallaght Hospital has forced the closure of at least two wards and has resulted in a number of patients testing positive for the bug. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Tallaght Hospital has imposed visitor restrictions in response to an outbreak of a potentially lethal superbug.

The hospital has banned visits by children and limited patients to just one visitor in order to ease pressures caused by the outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The outbreak of Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) has forced the closure of at least two wards and has resulted in a number of patients testing positive for the bug.

Emergency department consultant Dr Jim Gray said at risk patients should have been advised last August to seek alternative arrangements and avoid Tallaght in order to help control the outbreak.

“The A&E or hospital simply hasn’t got the infrastructure to provide that level of isolation,” he said.

The hospital says the restrictions are part of a “routine” tracking measures after a number of adult patients were identified as carriers of the bacteria.

“A number of in-patients are still being treated for the condition and all appropriate precautions and screenings are being undertaken. This has led to a temporary curtailment of elective activity and restricted visiting.”

Patients can continue to use the emergency department as normal, a spokeswoman advised, and the children’s department is unaffected. There were 14 patients on trolleys in the emergency department on Tuesday morning.

Last Wednesday, the emergency department admitted 12 patients needing isolation, who were not properly isolated but simply “warehoused” in cubicles behind curtains, according to Dr Gray.

“Vulnerable CRE susceptible patients continue to flood into an overcrowded, understaffed superbug-infested hospital using outdated equipment and infrastructure along with poor isolation capability and we wonder why the issue hasn’t been resolved, despite trojan staff efforts, Ellis Island style quarantine of infested closed wards, hand hygiene awareness campaigns and infection control measures?”

CRE is a family of bacteria which can cause infection and are difficult, though not impossible, to treat. They don’t usually pose a risk for healthy people but can be problematic for people with compromised immune systems.

CRE germs are usually spread person to person through contact with infected people, particularly contact with wounds or stool. They can cause infections when they enter the body, often through medical devices such as ventilators, catheters, or wounds caused by injury or surgery.