Almost a third of Covid-19 outbreaks in a Dublin hospital were contracted due to it having poor disease prevention methods in place.
A report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) into Tallaght University Hospital shows that almost a third (30%) of cases in the first surge were hospital associated.
The inspection which took place last December found that measures to prevent staff crossover between Covid and non-Covid streams were not in place, while potential weaknesses were also found during the patient screening process.
The health service watchdog said “this was not in line with HSE guidelines” and the measures in place in the emergency department to limit entry points, reduce entry to accompanying adults, ensure adequate cleaning resources and reduce overall risks associated with staff crossover were “insufficient.”
Up to June of last year, 373 patients and 291 staff members tested positive for Covid-19, and between the months of March and June 2020, the hospital recorded 11 outbreaks among 10 wards, whose duration varied from 29 days to 63 days.
In response to Hiqa, management said pre-triage assessment was unable to take place in the emergency department due to limited space.
Of the six themes inspected, Tallaght hospital was found non-compliant in ensuring a safe environment that minimises disease transmission.
The socialising of patients coming from outbreak wards in the smoking area were also identified by staff as contributing factors to ongoing transmission of the virus.
It also found that crossover of medical and cleaning staff between different pathways needed improving, as did cleaning resources.
The report stated that “poor compliance with infection prevention and control practices needs to improve significantly across the hospital.”
Hospital management also said it was disappointed at the poor compliance observed with local uniform policy and isolation precautions, and said it had already taken action to address the findings identified by inspectors.
However, the hospital did say additional resources would be needed to have a dedicated medical team for the Covid-19 pathway which would need approval at hospital group level.
Hiqa praised the hospital’s vaccination programme describing it as “commendable,” as at the time inspection took place, over 80% of staff had been vaccinated, surpassing the national target of 75% for 2020.
The watchdog also published inspection reports on Covid-related infection prevention and control in University Hospital Kerry and Wexford General Hospital.
Hiqa acknowledged that staffing resources were found to impact programmes established at Wexford General Hospital and University Hospital Kerry.
Overall, Hiqa said a “significant amount” of work had been done in all three hospitals to mitigate and manage potential threats posed by the virus.
Hand hygiene training, fit testing for clinical staff likely to undertake procedures that involve or may involve the generation of aerosols should be progressed, it said.