Friday 15 November 2019

HSE Director General: Crumlin blunder is a 'catastrophic failure'

HSE Director General Tony O'Brien
HSE Director General Tony O'Brien
Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE HSE Director General has called the Crumlin hospital blunder a "catastrophic failure" and says "no amount of spin" can mask how serious it is.

Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children wrongly identified 18 children at the centre of a contamination scare – and a further seven children have been identified.

HSE Director General Tony O'Brien was speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee this morning and said he found out about the incident last night and immediately ordered an investigation.

Mr O Brien called the incident a "catastrophic failure of the incident management process" and said there is now a investigation into how and why it happened.

"No amount of spin from PR consultants or the hospital can mask the seriousness of this," he added.

The clinical director of Dublin’s three children’s hospitals, Dr Colin Costigan, today apologised for the blunder.

The seven children who have been correctly identified are at risk of developing the bug ESPL, which is resistant to common antibiotics.

It is understood the children were treated with contaminated hospital equipment when undergoing colonoscopies in recent weeks.

Speaking this morning, Dr Costigan said he personally contacted the 18 families last night and apologised for the distress the news had caused them.

He also contacted six of the seven families newly identified last night to inform them of the contamination.

Dr Costigan said they are still in the process of contacting the final family, who are believed to be out of the country at present.

“I personally contacted the 18 families yesterday evening, and six of the seven last night to explain the situation to them.”

Dr Costigan said the source of contamination was attributed to the wrong colonoscope.

Some 18 families were contacted by the HSE in recent days telling them their children were at risk of developing ESPL.

However, the mistake was uncovered yesterday and a further seven children were correctly identified.

Dr Costigan said they were sorry for causing unnecessary distress to the families of the 18 children wrongly identified.

“We apolgoise for that and I apologised personally for that last night but that is the truth of what happened

“A formal investigation is going to take place with the National Incident Investigation Policy and the hospital and the HSE and we’ll have more information,” he said.

Speaking on RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland, Dr Costigan said he reassured 18 families last night.

So far, Dr Costigan has contacted six of the seven families affected.

It is understood the final family may be abroad and cannot be contacted at present.

The HSE is currently attempting to contact the family’s GP.

Regarding ESPL, Dr Costigan said these seven children may become colonised with the bacteria in their bowel. ESPL produces a compound which may counteract antibiotics.

If the child tests position for the bug, it will only flare up when the child is unwell or has a serious infection.

Certain antibiotics would have to be used, Dr Costigan explained.

“The important point here is that families or person would know that they carry ESPL so that doctors would choose first the correct line of antibiotics so there would be no time wasted in dealing with the infection.”

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