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Government must act more urgently on hospital superbugs – Ó Caoláin

12 November, 2008 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Government to act with greater urgency to combat hospital-based 'superbugs' such as C Diff (clostridium difficile) and MRSA following confirmation from Beaumont Hospital in Dublin that three patients died from C Diff during a recent outbreak at the hospital.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"It is of huge concern that three patients have died from C Diff in Beaumont Hospital in the space of four months. The hospital has also confirmed that 68 patients tested positive in that time and that C Diff was a contributory cause in the deaths of a number of patients in the same period.

"The scale of C Diff infection in our hospitals as revealed by these fatalities is extremely serious. Over 100 cases of C Diff infection were recorded in the month of May alone, the first month when doctors were legally obliged to report cases. This infection is more virulent than MRSA and is causing fatalities in our hospitals. I believe many deaths from these infections are avoidable and that Government inaction on hospital superbugs is costing lives.

"For several years now campaigners and front-line healthcare workers have been calling for isolation facilities and other essential measures to deal with serious hospital-based infections. The Government and HSE response has been totally inadequate. A campaign to encourage people to wash their hands is not enough.

"Health Minister Harney has failed to implement the recommendations of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre including isolation of patients with C Diff in single rooms; each hospital to conduct its own surveillance of the infection; education on infection control to be mandatory for all healthcare workers; antibiotic prescribing to be monitored. We need a commitment to implement these recommendations in full and to allocate the funding this year to do so.

"Providing single rooms and other isolation facilities in hospitals is absolutely crucial. Our hospitals, especially large hospitals such as Beaumont, are overcrowded and this has been worsened by the Government's failure to provide promised additional hospital beds. Instead they are relying on their discredited co-location scheme to 'free up' public beds. But even if this scheme is fully implemented it will be years before any such beds become available, if at all." ENDS

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