Dr Kieran Geraghty expressed concern at the number of outbreaks of Clostridium Difficile (C Diff) at Loughlinstown hospital and questioned consultant physician and geriatrician, Dr Morgan Crowe, as to the hospital’s existing infection control policy.
“Mrs McDonald was ill, but she might have gone home but for the Clostridium Difficile infection,” the coroner told the court.
“The problem is that the Clostridium Difficile spores are in the hospital and something should be done about it,” he said.
“To address the issue of hospital-acquired infection you need a comprehensive hospital policy and the expertise and facilities to implement that policy,” said Dr Crowe.
“I do feel there is a need for a team, a policy and a microbiologist. Consultants at the hospital have been calling for the appointment of a consultant microbiologist for the past two years,” he told the court.
The court heard that the hospital has a written policy regarding the management of hospital-acquired infections, which includes a strict policy regarding the prescription of antibiotics and the presence of an infection control team, as well as a strict isolation policy and ‘thorough environmental cleaning. But Dr Crowe told the court a strict policy regarding the prescription of antibiotics is impossible without a microbiologist on board and there is no infection control team, just an infection control nurse.
The infection control nurse, Kumar Nair, told the court that while current policy at the hospital is to swab all high-risk patients for infections, there is no way of knowing if the swabbing policy is being implemented.
Speaking outside the court, the family of Mrs McDonald expressed their anger at existing infection control policy at Loughlinstown hospital.
“All the time we watched Nanny in hospital, we never saw anybody wash their hands,” said her granddaughter Anita Tierney.
“Serious measures need to be taken regarding infection control,” said Mrs McDonald’s daughter, Martina Tierney.
“My mother would still be alive only for that infection,” she said.