Consultant geriatrician, Dr Christine O’Malley, who works at Nenagh General Hospital, said as a result, swabs taken from patients on a Friday afternoon are not delivered to the Midwest Regional Hospital in Limerick for examination until the following Monday.
“In my hospital, MRSA swabs have to be transported daily by taxi to Limerick. If you come in on a Friday afternoon, your swab won’t get processed until Monday.
“By the time you get the swab back, the patient has probably left hospital and is back in the community, possibly with MRSA,” Dr O’Malley said.
Dr O’Malley was speaking at the Irish Medical Organisation’s (IMO) AGM in Killarney, Co Kerry, during a motion calling on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to implement a coordinated and properly resourced plan to tackle hospital-acquired infection. MRSA, referred to as a superbug, is one of a number of potentially fatal, anti-biotic resistant drugs on the increase in hospitals. The motion called on the HSE to address issues such as the need for isolation rooms and consultant-led infectious disease teams, in tandem with tackling overcrowding. A second motion called for all acute hospitals to have “immediate and adequate access” to consultant microbiology advice. Dr Michael Thortnon, from Mayo General Hospital, said of approximately 53 acute hospitals, just 13 had microbiologists on site. “It’s a very serious issue not to have microbiologists to oversee lab services and to look at and test samples,” he said.
Dr Mick Molloy, from St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, said the problem of hospital acquired infection was compounded by overcrowding. “Some hospitals have had to create trolley wards. These are not wards. They are corridors. I think two metres is probably the modern standard in terms of recommended space between beds — not six inches, which is what we have.”
A separate motion looking at obesity called on the Government to allow doctors issue prescriptions for exercise, for example, that medical card holders with a weight problem might be given a voucher to attend a gym or healthcare facility, rather than be prescribed pills.”