Five inspections conducted during the summer by the Health Information Quality Authority have revealed the high possibility of infections due to poor hygiene in hospitals in Ireland.
Reports from the five inspections have just been published, and among a catalogue of issues which could result in infections due to poor hygiene in hospitals, the failure to clean hands properly was identified as a major risk to health.
In one hospital – Waterford Regional Hospital – inspectors observed medical and nursing staff taking advantage of five of just twenty-three opportunities to wash their hands – eleven before treating patients and twelve after – although some of the blame could be attributed to the number of soap dispensers that were empty or that had their nozzles blocked by congealed soap.
Other issues identified at Waterford Regional Hospital which contributed towards the high possibility of infections due to poor hygiene in hospitals included:-
- A patient with a suspected communicable infection being left in a general bay
- Mould left untreated in patients´ shower units and around toilet areas
- “Heavy sticky residue” found on the exterior of a patient’s wardrobe
- A used tracheotomy tube stored above a tray containing disinfectant
- Staff being observed failing to clean a commode after use
Commenting on the risk of infections due to poor hygiene at Waterford Regional Hospital, Clinical Director Rob Landers admitted that the hospital was “extremely disappointed” with the inspectors´ findings and said that future hygiene breaches would become a disciplinary matter. Mr Landers reassured patients that it was safe to attend Waterford Regional Hospital despite the finding in HIQA´s report.
The four other healthcare centres at which inspectors found a high possibility of infections due to poor hygiene in hospitals were:-
- Louth County Hospital, where inspectors discovered that the doors of two isolation rooms containing patients with known transmissible infections were left open as standard practice
- St Michael´s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, where inspectors discovered unhygienic temperature probes and found that mould had been allowed to develop in the hospital´s toilets and showering facilities for patients.
- Portiuncila Hospital in Galway, which had issues with the general cleanliness of the physical environment and medical equipment, and a poor standard of waste management.
- Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan, where the Accident and Emergency Department was found to be generally unclean – with the walls of the patients´ toilets particularly being described as “heavily stained”.