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Hospital patients put at risk of disease during building works, say inspectors

Published 19/09/2016

Dust was being carried into the orthopaedic ward, inspectors said
Dust was being carried into the orthopaedic ward, inspectors said

Patients in a hospital were put at high risk of disease from infections caused by fungi during building works, inspectors have found.

Watchdogs found a lack of basic controls at the Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar, with doors and windows on a ward left open while soil excavation took place outside and renovations took place next door.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) issued management with a series of warnings following the unannounced check at the end of May and returned six weeks later to make sure proper precautions were being taken.

Dust was being carried into the orthopaedic ward, inspectors said.

And they said that advice to keep windows shut during construction and digging work was not followed.

Hiqa said: "Infection prevention and control measures required during such activities to protect at-risk patients from invasive aspergillosis were not instituted in line with national guidelines."

The medical term is used for a wide range of infections which are caused by a type of mould or fungi. People with an underlying condition such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer or other lung problems are at increased risk if they breathe in the spores.

Hiqa also raised concerns about the standard of patient equipment hygiene in the 32-bed orthopaedic ward and levels of dust in other units including the renal dialysis unit.

And it warned about the standard of cleaning in the orthopaedic ward, with one mattress badly stained and smelling.

Issues were also raised about the storage of needles and the risk of cross-contamination from clean and dirty laundry and cleaning equipment in a storage room.

The Saolta University Healthcare Group, which manages the Castlebar hospital and six others in the west and north-west, wrote to Hiqa setting out a catalogue of changes to improve hygiene.

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