Prof Colette Cowan, Prof Paul Burke, Dr Robert Spencer and Prof Martin Cormican speaking at a recent press conference to discuss a report into CPE
THE UL Hospitals Group is to contact more than 2,100 previous patients who may have come in contact with CPE, an antibiotic resistant organism, through sharing wards with other patients who had the superbug while in hospital.
This week, the group began writing to 2,160 patients to advise that they shared a ward or clinical area before their discharge with a patient who subsequently had a positive result for the superbug.
This means that these patients may be a CPE contact, with a one in 20 chance of becoming a carrier of the superbug.
According to the UL Hospital Group, there is a one in 400 chance these patients might get a serious CPE infection in the future.
Receiving a letter does not mean patients have CPE, according to UL Hospitals Group chief operations officer Noreen Spillane.
“We are aware that receiving this letter from the hospital may cause anxiety for some of our discharged patients,” she explained.
“We would like to reassure patients that the risk of them having CPE is very low and that the risk of them becoming ill if they do have CPE is also very low.”
“Comprehensive information and a helpline details are being provided for patients who have any questions.”
Until now, patients who left hospital before they were identified as CPE contacts were only informed on their return to hospital, should they have been re-admitted.
Patients were not informed if they did not return to the hospital.
Following the recommendations from a National Expert Group, published in July, the HSE has asked every hospital to review their files and compile a list of patients.
“These letters are being issued as a result of changes in the national guidance around CPE and we are not proposing to do anything differently in practical terms when it comes to screening CPE contacts,” Ms Spillane said.
“We do ask that patients who receive the letter bring their contact card with them when they next present to hospital so that appropriate contact precautions can be taken by our staff.”
“We do not recommend that contacts get tested before they are re-admitted to an acute hospital but, as is stated in the letter, this can be facilitated if the patient requests testing.”
A dedicated helpline is being provided to all CPE Contacts should they have any questions.
Both the GPs and the consultants of each patient contact will also receive letters to ensure they are also informed about this contact.
More information can be found here: www.hse.ie/hcai/patient-toolkit.