Watchdog faults hospital’s hygiene

AN independent hygiene audit of a Dublin hospital has found a drop in standards since it was last assessed two years ago.

The unannounced inspection of the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital by health watchdog, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), concluded it had “not maintained its level of performance in relation to the delivery of hygiene services” since it was inspected in 2008.

During the inspection, which takes place against seven criteria, the hospital recorded disimprovements in four of seven categories.

Inspectors found:

* Bathrooms/washrooms were visibly unclean in three areas visited (out-patients and emergency departments share these facilities).

* Patients’ personal items were observed in bathrooms/washrooms in one of the areas visited.

* While overall, ward kitchen areas visited were clean, separate hand-wash sinks were not compliant with best practice and in one kitchen no soap was available.

* Clinical waste was stored centrally in a locked unit at the rear of the hospital, however, hazard notices were only observed on one of the locked doors and special hazardous clinical waste was not segregated from this waste.

* Waste destruction documentation was incomplete and the organisation did not demonstrate a consistent approach for monitoring this documentation.

* The majority of handwash sinks in the areas visited did not comply with guidelines for hand hygiene and hand-washing technique — essential for infection control — did not always comply with best practice.

The hospital achieved compliance levels of more than 85% in just two categories and was warned by HIQA that it “must address the shortfalls... in order to provide safe, efficient and effective hygiene services”.

The Royal Vic was built in 1897 for the provision of ophthalmic, ear, nose and throat, and head and neck services and has 80 in-patient beds and a large outpatient department accommodating circa 45,000 patient visits per annum. It treats both public and private patients.

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