Press Release

Statement by Mary Harney TD, Minister for Health and Children, following the publication of the HSE’s Review of Increased Identification of Clostridium Difficile at Ennis General Hospital January-June 2007

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D. has described the findings of the review into an outbreak of Clostridium difficile at the Midwestern Regional Hospital Ennis which peaked in March and April 2007 as “serious”.

The Minister said that all those involved must use reports such as this to take all of the necessary steps to improve patient safety and services. “This increased rate of infection in Ennis General Hospital was happening in stark contrast to other hospitals in the region which were showing a downward trend in Clostridum difficile Associated Diarrhoea (CDAD).”

The Minister expressed her sympathy to any patient and/or family who has been affected by the outbreak.

The Minister said that patients are entitled to know that everyone involved in their care will do everything in their power to minimise the risk to them in the course of their treatment. “ I have no doubt that caregivers are deeply committed to patient safety and we will support them in taking all of the necessary steps in meeting this commitment to patients.”

Clostridium Difficile – A notifiable disease

The Minister said “In March, I instructed the HSE to make Clostridium Difficile a notifiable disease. From May 4th, all cases of Clostridium Difficile and the associated disease, Clostridium Difficile Associated Diarrhoea (CDAD) will have to be notified to the relevant Department of Public Health. All new cases of CDAD will be entered onto the national Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting system.

An outbreak should not go unchecked again.”

Reducing Infection

“It is incumbent on every single individual who enters a hospital, those who work there at every level and those who visit to contribute to the highest common factor and not the lowest common denominator in controlling infections in our hospitals.”

“Substantially reducing infections is not an unrealistic goal. It is achievable, as demonstrated in Ennis, when belatedly, actions were taken to curtail the level of C.Difficile in the hospital after the outbreak. The implementation of relatively simple and sustained measures such as

•raising awareness with consultant and nursing staff; •additional intensive cleaning •improved hand hygiene facilities; •increased education and training on hand hygiene and infection control, and •renewed focus on appropriate antibiotic prescribing,

have been proven to be effective in the control of infections.”

“The availability of isolation facilities is also an important factor in the overall solution to the issue of reducing the incidence of infection. I have conveyed to the HSE that designated private beds should be used where isolation facilities are required for patients who contract infections such as Clostridium difficile.

I welcome the fact that most of the recommendations for the hospital in Ennis have been implemented.

I commend hospitals who apply a rigorous infection control policy. Anything less is a dereliction of duty”