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Tuesday 12 November 2019

CJD-scare hospital stays silent on safety procedures

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE hospital where up to 20 patients may be at risk of the brain-wasting disease CJD is refusing to say if safety procedures are to be stepped up.

The patients, who underwent surgery at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin were operated on with the same surgical instruments used on a patient in their thirties who was later diagnosed with CJD, a disease for which there is no test and no cure.

Major questions remain about the safety procedures in place at the hospital.

A spokesman for the hospital yesterday refused to say what kind of risk assessment was carried on the infected patient before they underwent surgery.

The failure of doctors to detect that the patient had possible symptoms meant that the surgical instruments were not subjected to a more intensive level of decontamination.

He said that Beaumont followed the policies set out by the patient safety watchdog, the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA), and the HSE standards of 2011.

He said the suspect surgical instruments are now in "quarantine and it is expected that the equipment will be destroyed in the near future".


The patients face a lifetime of surveillance, but the hospital has declined to say what kind of scans or counselling they will be offered.

Guidelines from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre warn that an assessment for CJD should be completed for all patients scheduled to undergo a neurosurgical procedure.

The doctors should carry out a case history to find out if the patient has ever been told they are at risk of developing CJD.

Doctors should also find out if there is a history of CJD or another prion disease in the family. Patients should be considered potentially at risk of CJD if they have received more than 50 units of UK-derived blood.

It emerged yesterday that one of the patients who had died from the disease had iatrogenic CJD, which spread from someone with CJD through medical or surgical treatment.

Cases of iatrogenic CJD can occur if instruments used during brain or nerve surgery are not properly cleaned between each surgical procedure.

Some 58 cases of CJD were reported since December 1996, according to the latest available figures.

Variant CJD, linked to eating beef contaminated with BSE, is specified as a separate notifiable disease. Four vCJD cases have been notified since December 1996.

Irish Independent

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