THE hospital looking after some of the sickest children in the country has been named and shamed for putting young patients at "clear and serious risk" due to dirty wards and poor infection control.
Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin, was one of five hospitals given low marks for cleanliness and hygiene standards in a new round of inspections.
Inspectors who arrived – mostly unannounced – at 12 hospitals found several failed to ensure proper hand washing, despite it being the "single most important measure to protect patients from infections".
And in some hospitals, patients who had a disease that could spread to others were in open areas of emergency departments, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found.
Lapses in infection control and cleanliness included dust and dirt on surfaces, soiled bedpans, worn and damaged furniture, black residue in shower areas, splash marks on equipment, and blood stains.
What the reports revealed:
A low level of hand hygiene compliance, with all clinical areas generally unclean.
Washbowls, jugs and funnels inappropriately stored on top of a bedpan washer. Three commodes soiled and not emptied. An uncapped needle on the floor of the treatment room.
Although it is an old building, there was a lack of clear hygiene management.
Connolly Hospital, Dublin (announced inspection):
A patient with a disease that could spread was cared for in an open cubicle in the emergency department. This was not an isolated case.
A member of cleaning staff left an isolation area to get a waste bag and mop wearing an apron and gloves.
South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel:
There was a serious risk to patients due to a corridor adjacent to the emergency department being used to accommodate people with a transmissible disease.
Limerick Maternity Hospital:
Unlocked and clinical waste bins found on a corridor.
Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe:
Low level of hand hygiene compliance. St Francis ward had dusty floors and while the maternity ward and St Clare's five-day ward were generally clean, a commode basin in the maternity section was soiled and stained.
The inspectors said Mayo General, St Luke's in Kilkenny, Mullingar, Temple Street and Cavan hospitals were found to have good cleanliness. Roscommon was generally clean along with the Coombe maternity hospital, except for two wards.
Phelim Quinn, Hiqa's director of regulation, said: "These kinds of deficits are not acceptable and require immediate action.
"Hospitals are being asked to develop quality improvement plans that prioritise changes necessary to fully meet the national standards."
Hospitals that have failed to meet the required standards have been given six weeks to publish response plans.
Hiqa said overall the practice in relation to hand hygiene is potentially putting patients at risk of acquiring a healthcare-associated infection.