Poor hygiene practices at Tallaght Hospital have put patients and visitors at serious risk of infection, according to an inspection team's report.
An examination was carried out in two wards at the Dublin hospital and inspectors found "a serious risk to the health and welfare of patients, visitors and staff".
During the unannounced visit, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found that the compliance rate among staff for hand-hygiene training was just 14pc.
The authority wrote to the hospital last July and declared there was "a significant deficit" at senior level in the management, governance, and leadership of the prevention and control of infections.
In a hard-hitting letter, the authority stated that patients being treated for serious infections were not being managed effectively because of "insufficient clinical microbiology resource" being in place in the wards.
These failings resulted in "a high risk to patients" because efforts to prevent and control "health care associated infections" were severely restricted, the authority said.
The inspectors discovered that many items of patient equipment in frequent use in one of the two wards were unclean and posed a danger of transmission of infection from patient to patient.
The poor performance in the area of hand hygiene rules was found to be considerably lower than the standards demanded by Health Service Executive targets.
The team found a visible blood stain on the floor beside a patient's bed in the Frank's Ward as well as the presence of a tourniquet [a bandage].
They also discovered floor covering in the ward was missing beside a patient's bed, which left concrete exposed.
The hospital said the missing floor-covering problem had been referred to the technical department two years previously but still had not been fixed.
Inspectors also found unacceptable levels of dust in the ward on bed frames, behind lockers, on the undercarriage of beds and on the edges of the floor.
Throughout the two wards, they also found extensive damage to plasterwork on walls and to paintwork on walls, radiators and door frames.
Tallaght hospital accepted many of the findings of the HIQA team.
The hospital agreed to undertake improvements.
The following month, another unannounced inspection took place and "a significant improvement" was noted, which showed that the hospital was working on implementing the recommendations of the inspectors.