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Handwashing behind hospital's high infection rate


Superbug rates here have fallen, but are still among the highest in Europe

Superbug rates here have fallen, but are still among the highest in Europe

Superbug rates here have fallen, but are still among the highest in Europe

PATIENTS in a busy regional hospital had a higher than average rate of a potentially life-threatening infection due to the kind of anti-biotic treatment they received and lapses in handwashing by some staff.

The report of an inspection of Cavan General Hospital in early October found the rate of Clostridium Difficile was "significantly" above the national average, the Health Information and Quality Authority revealed.

The bacterial infection, which can lead to severe symptoms, poses a particular risk to older people, particularly those who are frail or have medical conditions.

The inspectors said the pattern and volume of antibiotic consumption was a major contributing factor and a failure of good handwashing suggested the same strain was passed on between two patients.

The hospital responded with quality improvement plans which addressed weaknesses and it has recently recruited a microbiologist while also addressing a shortage of infection control staff.

The inspectors warned the lapses in handwashing posed an immediate high risk to the health and welfare of patients, staff and visitors.

Other problems included:

An unclean commode, oxygen saturation probe and IV stand wheels at a patient's bedside in a surgical ward.

Frequently used patient equipment such as commodes, an IV pump and temperature probe in another surgical ward which posed a potential risk of infection passing from one patient to another.

The cleaning of patient wash basins in the bed pan washer was not in line with best practice.

The toilet flush in one six-bedded ward was not working effectively during the days prior to inspection.

The inspectors observed 29 handwashing opportunities but staff failed to do so on 11 occasions.

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The correct technique was not always used.

It said the hospital needs to continue to build compliance to ensure good hand hygiene.

They also recommended the hospital should review the management of the water system to prevent Legionnaires disease.

Meanwhile, a second inspection report following a visit to Mercy Hospital in Cork led to concerns about the management of risk of a patient with a transmissible disease.

The inspectors said four single ensuite rooms in St Joseph's ward were occupied by patients needing isolation facilities.

However, due to lack of additional facilities, a fifth patient requiring isolation was accommodated in one of the six-bedded wards with patients who did not need to be isolated.

Sanitary and washing facilities were shared by all patients on the six-bedded ward.

There was no signage to indicate the patient was isolated. Proper hand hygiene procedures were not observed.

Handwashing standards were also not up to standard.

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