Handwashing at hospital in Ireland gets worse, not better

With all the attention being paid to handwashing, especially in hospitals, it’s unique when compliance rates get worse rather than better (unless the evaluation techniques are becoming more rigorous).

The Irish Examiner reports an independent hygiene audit of a Dublin hospital has found a drop in standards since it was last assessed two years ago.

The unannounced inspection of the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital by health watchdog, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), concluded it had "not maintained its level of performance in relation to the delivery of hygiene services" since it was inspected in 2008.

* Bathrooms/washrooms were visibly unclean in three areas visited (out-patients and emergency departments share these facilities).

* Patients’ personal items were observed in bathrooms/washrooms in one of the areas visited.

* While overall, ward kitchen areas visited were clean, separate hand-wash sinks were not compliant with best practice and in one kitchen no soap was available.

* Clinical waste was stored centrally in a locked unit at the rear of the hospital, however, hazard notices were only observed on one of the locked doors and special hazardous clinical waste was not segregated from this waste.

* Waste destruction documentation was incomplete and the organisation did not demonstrate a consistent approach for monitoring this documentation.

* The majority of handwash sinks in the areas visited did not comply with guidelines for hand hygiene and hand-washing technique — essential for infection control — did not always comply with best practice.