Families contacted over superbug probe at University Hospital Limerick

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

UL Hospitals’ CEO, Prof Colette Cowan said that they intend to publish the findings in a number of weeks.

UL Hospitals’ CEO, Prof Colette Cowan said that they intend to publish the findings in a number of weeks.

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick staff are now making contact with families of deceased patients who had tested positive for the CPE superbug, following the conclusion of an expert external review into 74 deaths.

CPE is a potentially-lethal multi-drug resistant superbug with a high mortality rate of 50% for those who are infected. CPE can be carried without the person showing any symptoms.

The first ever detection in Ireland was at UHL in 2009.

After an internal review into the numerous patient deaths, the UL Hospitals Group commissioned an independent external investigation.

This probe was carried out by eminent British consultant medical microbiologist Dr Robert C Spencer.

In late May, the UL Hospitals Group confirmed that the review had been completed and that it would be published in a number of weeks.

When questioned by the Limerick Leader,  UL Hospitals’ CEO, Prof Colette Cowan said that they intend to publish the findings in a number of weeks.

“The external review, at the moment, it will be published in the coming weeks. We are just contacting families and that is my first priority, so of course I have been heavily involved in that, and has my team.

“We will publish it. We are transparent about it, but our first step is to contact the families,” she said at a press event at University Maternity Hospital Limerick last Tuesday. 

In an interview with the media in June 2017, UL Hospitals’ chief clinical director, Prof Paul Burke said all cases were “quite complex”.

TD Clare Daly sent a parliamentary question to Minister for Health Simon Harris about the internal and external probes in May.

Minister Harris replied last Thursday: “My understanding is that both of these particular reports were commissioned by the University of Limerick Hospital Group and I have referred your questions to the HSE for direct response to the Deputy.

“I wish, however to assure the Deputy that I take the risks of healthcare associated infections very seriously. In this regard I launched Ireland's National Action Plan on AMR last October and declared CPE as a public health emergency and it continues to be managed as such.”

A total of €4m was spent on dealing with the superbug at UHL in 2016.