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Hand hygiene in Irish hospitals missed in 31 per cent of cases17th of March 2014
Almost a third of hand washing opportunities were missed by staff in Irish hospitals last year according to the country's Health Information and Quality Authority.
And at one hospital, levels of hand washing compliance - said to be central to preventing the spread of hospital infections - were observed to be as low as 28 per cent.
The Hiaq studies revealed that of the 1,500 hand hygiene opportunities observed during the period, only 69 per cent were taken by hospital staff.
In an inspection at Letterkenny General Hospital in Februrary 2013, just 28 per cent of hand-washing opportunities were seen to be taken - though this figure rose to 58 per cent during a follow-up inspection in June of the same year.
As well as observing hand hygiene practices among staff, inspectors also took a look at the physical environment in hospitals to gain a general picture of infection prevention and control.
Common non-compliance issues recorded by inspectors included issues around the cleanliness in wards, patient equipment and other patient areas that included light to heavy dust. Chipped paintwork, staining and damaged equipment was also noted. And some utility rooms were found to be unsecured which was said to create the potential for unauthorised access to needles, syringes and medications.
A total of 54 inspections were carried out by Hiaq in 49 hospitals over a 14-month period between November 2012 and December 2013. In cases where hand washing was observed, 79 per cent complied with best practice.