Monday 23 October 2017

A&E chief criticises hospital's superbug controls

Dr James Gray, emergency consultant at Tallaght Hospital. Picture Collins, Dublin.
Dr James Gray, emergency consultant at Tallaght Hospital. Picture Collins, Dublin.
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The failure to advise patients who are at risk from a superbug outbreak to stay away from the emergency department of a major Dublin hospital has been strongly criticised by a leading doctor.

Dr James Gray, emergency consultant at Tallaght Hospital, said the hospital has been fighting an outbreak of the potentially deadly CRE bug since July.

CRE - which stands for carbapenem resistant enterobacteria - is generally not a risk to healthy people but poses a potential danger to patients whose immune systems are low, who are using catheters and ventilators or are taking antibiotics.

"It is an infection control nightmare," said Dr Gray. In mid-September he emailed management and Health Minister Simon Harris expressing grave concern about the effect the ward closures, due to the outbreak, were having on the emergency department.

Since then "vulnerable, CRE-susceptible patients continue to flood into an overcrowded, understaffed superbug infested hospital using outdated equipment and infrastructure along with poor isolation capability," he added.

"Last Wednesday in the emergency department we had 12 admitted patients boarding needing 'isolation' for various reasons. Most of them were not properly isolated. They were mostly warehoused individually in cubicles with curtains. The A&E or hospital simply hasn't got the infrastructure to provide that level of isolation.

"At-risk patients should have been advised back in August when an outbreak was declared to seek alternative arrangements and avoid Tallaght Hospital while this crisis rampages, to facilitate controlling it.

"To allow open access via A&E is like pouring petrol on to a fire and wondering why the fire still rages on."

A hospital spokeswoman said appropriate precautions have been taken. This has led to a curtailment of elective activity and restricted visiting. Patients should use the emergency department as normal.

Irish Independent

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