A HEALTH watchdog had to deliver formal warnings to 13 hospitals about serious risks to patients after hygiene inspections.
The warnings were issued in the last 14 months after HIQA inspectors made announced and unannounced inspections of 49 hospitals.
The notifications of risk involved cleanliness, hand washing and control of infectious diseases that posed a risk to patients.
Other risks included drug trolleys not being maintained in accordance with best practice guidelines, and inappropriate accommodation of patients.
This included patients observed on trolleys located outside of screened treatment bays in the emergency department and on extra beds placed into wards.
The hospitals were: Sligo General, St James's, Kerry General, Waterford, Beaumont, Limerick Regional, South Tipperary, Wexford, Letterkenny, Connolly, Cork University Hospital, Naas and Monaghan.
Inspectors had to make return visits to seven hospitals – Beaumont, Letterkenny, Limerick Regional, Crumlin, Portiuncula, Sligo General and South Tipperary Hospital.
During the visits the inspectors observed 1,500 opportunities for staff to wash their hands but they did so on just 1,035 occasions. And of these only 820 staff did so properly.
HIQA did 54 inspections, covering 49 of the 50 public acute hospitals between November 2012 and December 2013.
Ten inspections were announced and 44 were unannounced. Seven hospitals were inspected twice by HIQA arising from initial checks, while 100 recommendations were issued to the 10 hospitals which had an announced inspection.
Phelim Quinn, HIQA's director of regulation, said: "All hospitals which underwent announced and unannounced inspections were found to be partially compliant with the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections.
"However, no hospital was found to be fully compliant with all of the standards at the time of their individual inspection.
"We noted that most of those hospitals that required a second inspection had improved and generally the feedback from the hospitals demonstrates a positive and constructive attitude to the recommendations.
"The quality improvement plans being put in place by hospitals as a result of the inspections show the impact and effectiveness of inspections on leadership, culture and practice within healthcare settings," he added.