Hospital action plan to tackle hygiene concerns

The HSE says an action plan has been put in place at South Tipperary General Hospital to address shortfalls in hygiene and infection control at the highlighted in a new report.

The HSE says an action plan has been put in place at South Tipperary General Hospital to address shortfalls in hygiene and infection control at the highlighted in a new report.

South Tipperary General Hospital along with the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerck, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin and Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe were highly criticised in a series of hygiene and infection prevention reports published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) last week.

HIQA said poor handwashing practice in many Irish hospitals, including South Tipperary General, is potentially putting patients at risk of acquiring hospital infection.

At South Tipperary General Hospital, HIQA said there was a lack of cleanliness with the physical environment and equipment. The lack of cleanliness suggested the physical environment was not being effectively managed to protect patients and reduce the risk of infection spreading,

The Clonmel inspection also found a serious risk to patients, where the corridor adjacent to the ED, used as a patient thoroughfare from the main hospital entrance to the ED, could be used to accommodate patients with communicable diseases.

The hospital reported back with an action plan to manage this risk.

Hospitals like South Tipperary General, who performed poorly in the HIQA inspections, will be revisited by inspectors within around six months.

In a statement, the HSE acknowledged that improvements were required in the area of cleanliness in the physical environment in some hospitals. All HSE sites were required to comply with the HIQA National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections.

The HSE said where deficits were identified, sites are required to immediately put in place quality improvement plans to address these issues. These quality improvement plans are monitored on an ongoing basis through national, regional and local governance structures and processes.

The statement said South Tipperary General Hospital has put in place an immediate action plan to address the issues highlighted by HIQA.

The action plan includes a series of measures to improve the education of hospital staff in relation to hand hygiene. These measures include reviewing hand hygiene education presentations with separate sessions for clinical, non clinical and household staff and specific induction sessions for all new junior doctors starting at the hospital.

The HSE said the hospital was also reviewing all its hand hygiene signs to ensure they are all laminated, framed and wall mounted and would review its hand hygiene audit results quarterly with a follow up action plan.

The hospital is also going to seek feedback from the public on hand hygiene at the hospital and revise its patient information leaflet to encourage patients to request staff to wash their hands.