Sunday 23 October 2016

Vulnerable newborns 'left at risk of infection' at National Maternity Hospital

Published 15/02/2016 | 11:29

Dr Rhona Mahony, master of the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Dr Rhona Mahony, master of the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Vulnerable newborns in the intensive care unit of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street were left at risk of infection, a damning inspectors’ report has revealed.

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The inspectors, who made an unannounced visit to the busy maternity hospital in October, found patient welfare was at risk because of poor hygiene controls and overcrowding.

The inspection sparked an immediate letter to master Dr Rhona Mahony from the patient safety body, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

They warned:

*Overcrowding in the neonatal intensive care unit, caring for the sickest babies,caused risk of infection. The newly opened unit was designed to accommodate 36 babies but on the day of inspection 46 babies were accommodated there. One cot was near a sink which could pose a risk of a waterborne infection.

*The quality of cleaning in the delivery ward was insufficient on the day of inspection. Dust control measures were not up to standard and splashes of blood were present on patient beds, wall surfaces and patient equipment. This led to the danger of blood borne viruses and other bugs being passed on.

*The care and storage of medications given intravenously was not in line with best practice. Anaesthetic drugs drawn up in syringes and infusions were not properly labelled and stored hygienically in the delivery ward.

*The design of beds did not allow for effective cleaning or inspection of mattresses. There were poor processes in place for bed cleaning.

*Inspectors found a patient bed was put in a lobby outside the mother’s delivery rooms in a storage area used for clean supplies. This was not proper patient care and did not allow for dignity, confidentiality or privacy.

* A single mop head was used to clean up body fluid spillages in different rooms.

*Surfaces, finishes and some furnishings in patient rooms including windows, wall paint work,wall coverings , woodwork , wood finishes and bed heads were worn and poorly maintained .

The inspectors acknowledged the hospital was built in the 19th century and faces major infrastructural problems while also coping with a high number of births.

The hospital is to be moved to the campus of St Vincent’s Hospital but this will take some year and in the meantime it is important that improvements in the infrastructure of the delivery room is progressed, said Hiqa,

Following inspection the hospital acted to address the areas of risk highlighted and in another visit in November they found  some improvements but more progress was needed in relation to hygiene, overcrowding in the intensives care unit, safe injection practices and maintenance.

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