A lobby group for victims of the MRSA superbug has called for an immediate overhaul of the recording system for it in the wake of the recent outbreak among newborn babies at Mayo General Hospital.
They said official records for MRSA in the country are failing to include cases where the bacteria enters open wounds, bones or the respiratory system of patients.
The call comes in the wake of the Irish Independent revealing that health authorities were trying to find the source of an MRSA outbreak which affected 23 new babies in Castlebar.
Dr Teresa Graham of Stop Infection Now said the current system was failing to give an accurate reading of the extent of the problem.
Dr Graham, who has been campaigning for eight years for changes to the HSE recording system, added that several serious forms of MRSA were being ignored by the authorities.
"MRSA blood stream infection is a notifiable disease, but a number of very MRSA infections are not and we need to have a complete picture," she said.
"Skin colonisation is not in itself life threatening unless you have a cut and it gets into the body, but MRSA infections of the bone, wounds or respiratory system are not being recorded either."
Dr Graham, a psychologist whose husband died after contracting MRSA, told how she had sent research on the matter to the Health Minister James Reilly shortly after his appointment but received no answer.
"I've done research into the after-affects of MRSA and we've seen cases of people having limbs removed as a result of bone MRSA or being left seriously disabled from respiratory MRSA. These are serious long-term health issues, yet these cases are not notifiable," she said.
The HSE confirmed that it had not alerted the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to the cases because they related to colonisation and not full infection.
A second support group of victims of MRSA is now is calling for an urgent meeting with HSE officials.
"It was our understanding that all cases of MRSA would be reported. It is a communicable disease. It doesn't matter if it's just colonisation or full infection all cases were to be reported.
"It means the figures are much higher than what is being recorded," said MRSA and Families spokesperson Margaret Dawson.