Saturday 1 October 2016

Hospital needs to win back parents' trust

Published 26/07/2013 | 05:00

OUR Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin has serious questions to answer as to how it managed to misinform 18 families that their children were at risk of contacting a dangerous bug, only to row back a day later and advise that they had the all-clear.

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Its problem has been compounded after the hospital was forced to admit that seven other patients were still at risk of contamination with ESBL – which can cause blood or kidney infections – but that these had not been identified in an initial investigation.

Not only does this raise concerns about the quality of its clinical records, it also puts parents in the invidious position of not being able to trust one of the busiest hospitals in the State.

For the most part, the valuable work done every day by staff in our public hospitals goes unnoticed. But when things go wrong, you would expect that patients at risk could be immediately identified and told of a potential problem – something which did not happen in this case.

The problems in Crumlin are well known. The hospital is overcrowded, in unsuitable accommodation and lacking capital investment. Its own doctors have said it is not fit for purpose.

But this isn't about facilities or buildings, it's about record-keeping. A hospital which cannot identify patients who underwent a procedure in recent weeks has serious problems at management level.

One parent who was mistakenly informed that her child was at risk says she has lost all faith in the system. She will not be alone.

Any parent of a sick child should not have to wait weeks to be told of a potential problem. They should not have to go through needless worry because an administrator mistakenly identified their child as being at risk or delayed telling them. The parents of these children have endured that in recent days.

Parents rightly ask questions of their doctors and nurses, but they should not have to query if a piece of medical equipment is sterile. Medical care is all based on trust. Crumlin will have to address all the questions raised about this fiasco before that trust can be regained.

Irish Independent

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