Tuesday 16 July 2019

HSE to write to patients exposed to CPE superbug

Bill Browne

The HSE has commenced the process of writing to patients who had not previously been informed they had come into contact with other patients who had been carrying the CPE superbug.

In what could be viewed as something of an understatement, the acting director general of the HSE, John Connaughton, has warned the Department of Health in a letter that people unknowingly exposed to others carrying the highly antibiotic-resistant bug may be "very upset and disappointed".

It is understood the letter said that existing mechanisms did not address what were described as the  "prompt communication" with patients who had left hospital before it was known that they had been exposed to CPE.  The letter said this could result in a long delay before patients were informed they had been exposed to CPE or they may not be informed at all unless they were readmitted to the same hospital.

Mr Connaughton wrote that while a catch-up process was needed to inform those patients not already informed this had the potential to cause "upset to patients and the wider public."

Mr Connaughton wrote that although the HSE was at pains to ensure "clear and appropriate" communication to provide patients with the requisite care and support after being informed "we must anticipate that some people may be very upset and disappointed".

According to there may be as many as 5,000 patients who shared space with someone carrying CPE.