University Hospital Limerick fails to combat serious superbug

University Hospital Limerick fails to combat serious superbug

A REPORT published this Tuesday morning has found that the spread of a superbug in University Hospital has not been "effectively controlled to date".

The findings have been published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) following an unannounced inspection of UHL in July of this year. 

The superbug in question, Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacterales (CPE), is the most difficult of all superbugs to kill with antibiotics.

An outbreak of CPE in Irish hospitals was declared a public health emergency in October 2017 and has since been the target of a national campaign to control it.

Read also: Limerick man, 56, was dead at home for weeks, inquest told

HIQA inspectors found that though UHL had "defined governance and management structures in relation to decontamination and reprocessing of critical and semi-critical reusable medical devices used at the hospital" and "good local ownership in relation to decontamination in a satellite decontamination facility", a designated decontamination lead in the University of Limerick Hospitals Group was not in place.

The report advised that "a leadership role in decontamination to drive and support the implementation of national and international best practice guidance at the hospital" should be implemented. 

CPE can live harmlessly in the gut but can be fatal if it gets into the bloodstream, with over half of those who develop bloodstream infections with CPE dying as a result.

The superbug poses a particularly high risk to older people and those with reduced immune system function.

The superbug is shed in faeces and transmitted by direct and indirect contact with an infected person and can have a detection time of up to four weeks after being transmitted.

Those who are in contact with CPE have roughly a 1 in 20 chance of carrying the superbug, with those carrying it having the same odds of developing an infection. 

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