Saturday 17 February 2018

Hospital was warned before infection scare

Crumlin Children's hospital
Crumlin Children's hospital

Clodagh Sheehy

THE hospital at the centre of an infection scare was issued with a warning weeks before the  possible infection of seven children. Crumlin Children’s Hospital was ordered to clean up its infection control procedures by health and safety authorities, the Herald has learned.

The warning came just weeks before the discovery of the damaged scope that may have infected seven children.

HIQA carried out an inspection of the hospital last March and ordered an audit on all medical devices used inside the body to ensure there was no danger of them being infected.

This would have included the endoscope which led to the current scare and which was quarantined when contamination was discovered on July 6. Parents were told two weeks later.

It appears there may have been a small crack in the scope which allowed the ESBL bug to survive despite sterilisation.

Yesterday the hospital admitted that it wrongly contacted the families of 18 children to alert them that they may have been infected.

Officials have now, however, identified seven different children who are at risk and are undergoing testing. The test results are due within a week.

The HIQA report, given to the hospital in June, said while a hygiene infection audit had been undertaken on intravenous catheters, the Crumlin hospital needed to “undertake audit on the use of all invasive medical devices” to ensure infection was being prevented.

It also expressed concern that infection prevention and control was not a standing item on meetings of the management team or board of directors.

HIQA referred to the poor attendance by some staff groups at hand hygiene training last.

Meanwhile, the Irish Patient Association has insisted that responsibility for the infection crisis at the Crumlin hospital goes to the top of the HSE.

Stephen McMahon of the association hit out at the two- week delay in telling parents that their children might be infected and then telling the wrong group of parents.

Mr McMahon told the Herald: “The patient should be at the centre of the process. If they spot something the patient should be told immediately. The authorities should not wait to get all their ducks in a row first.”

Initially identifying the wrong group of children he added was akin to “operating on the wrong leg, it's that serious.”

Mr McMahon said that the Crumlin equipment infection came after the CJD equipment infection in Beaumont Hospital which put up to 20 patients at serious risk of contamination.

Director of the three Dublin paediatric hospitals, Dr Colm Costigan, has apologised for the distress caused. HSE director general Tony O'Brien described the handling of the issue as a “catastrophic failure of the incident management process”.

A representative for Crumlin Hospital did not respond to queries from the Herald at the time of going to print.

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