Poor hand-washing at Portiuncula is putting patients at risk — HIQA

New hygiene and infection prevention inspection reports published yesterday by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA ) have found that poor hand-washing practice in Portiuncula Hospital is potentially putting patients at risk of acquiring a Healthcare Associated Infection.

The Portiuncula report was one of 12 unannounced assessment reports published by HIQA which focus on hand hygiene and hospital cleanliness. The reports are part of a new programme of work for HIQA to assess the impact of its National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections on improving patient safety within our hospitals.

The authority found one out of the three clinical areas assessed in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe was unclean. While the two other clinical areas assessed were generally clean, it felt there were opportunities for improvement in these areas. However, the authority notes the infrastructural challenges of an older building.

“The lack of cleanliness observed in some areas would suggest that, overall, the physical environment was not effectively managed and maintained to protect service users and reduce the spread of HCAIs and that an effective maintenance programme should be established and implemented

“Hand hygiene is recognised internationally as the single most important preventative measure in the transmission of HCAIs in healthcare services. It is essential that a culture of hand hygiene practice is embedded in every service at all levels.

HIQA found that while endeavours were made to put the necessary procedures and systems in place for hand hygiene at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, hand hygiene practices observed by their inspectors were inconsistent with the standards and clearly suggest that a culture of hand hygiene best practice is not operationally embedded at all levels. They felt that this poses a clear and serious risk to patients.

The report went on to state that Portiuncula must now develop a quality improvement plan (QIP ) that prioritises the improvements necessary to fully comply with the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections.

This plan must be approved by the service provider’s identified individual who has overall executive accountability, responsibility and authority for the delivery of high quality, safe and reliable services. The QIP must be published by the hospital on its webpage on the HSE website within six weeks of the date of publication of this report.

The authority will continue to monitor the Hospital’s QIPs as well as relevant outcome measurements and key performance indicators, in order to provide assurances to the public that the service provider is implementing and meeting the NSPCHCAIs and is making quality and safety improvements that safeguard patients.

It acknowledges that the unannounced monitoring assessment at Portiuncula Hospital on January 9 was a snapshot of the hygiene levels in some areas of the Hospital at a point in time. However, based on the findings of this assessment the authority will, within the next six months, undertake an announced follow-up assessment.


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