The Health Information and Quality Authority says the cleanliness of equipment in the country’s hospitals is a common problem.
Between February 2014 and Janary 2015, Hiqa carried out 54 inspections of 49 out of the 50 acute public hospitals.
In many of the hospitals, inspectors regularly saw unclean equipment in hospital wards.
Hiqa said patients had the right to expect that equipment designed for reuse was thoroughly cleaned after each use.
Letters warning of high risk were sent to seven of the hospitals and follow-up inspections were carried out in five hospitals because of particularly poor compliance with standards.
The five hospitals were Beaumont Hospital and Tallaght Hospital in Dublin; Wexford General Hospital; University Hospital Limerick; and Cork University Hospital.
Hiqa found that 73% of the 49 hospitals inspected had dirty commodes, while one in four (24%) had unclean blood sugar monitors.
It pointed out that unclean commodes promoted the transmission of serious infections such as clostridium difficile.
The inspectors found that half of the mattresses or covers it examined were unclean and more than a third (35%) of the temperature probe holders were dirty.
While hand hygiene had improved generally, Hiqa wants hospitals to share good hygiene practice and address common problems together.
Hiqa pointed out that inspectors regularly found poor access to hand hygiene gel dispensers for staff, and hand-wash sinks that did not meet specifications.
Hiqa’s acting director of regulation, Mary Dunnion, said there had been a marked improvement in the standard of hygiene in hospitals where a high risk had been identified.
Ms Dunnion said patients should be educated to clean their hands at appropriate times and be encouraged to challenge staff to clean their hands.
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