Superbug alert from Tallaght Hospital emergency consultant

Superbug alert from Tallaght Hospital emergency consultant

By Mary Dennehy

ANY vulnerable patients whose immune system may be compromised should not be attending Tallaght Hospital due to an outbreak of a bacterial superbug, an emergency department consultant has said.

Tallaght Hospital has this week restricted visiting after a number of patients tested positive for Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – a bacterial infection that, resistant to antibiotics, is difficult but not impossible to treat.

Dr James Gray resized

As part of infection prevention and control measures, the local hospital has appealed to members of the public for its support in observing the restrictions.

However Dr James Gray, an emergency department consultant at Tallaght, has this week spoken out and advised any vulnerable patient with a chronic illness, respiratory issue or a compromised immune system to steer clear of the hospital.

Dr Gray told The Echo: “CRE is not a problem for an ordinary, normal, healthy, person, which is important for people to know.

“However, for patients who are vulnerable, they can develop sepsis or kidney infections and there is a mortality rate associated with this superbug, it really is a nightmare superbug that is difficult to treat.

“We need to educate people in the catchment area, and GPs, and only people who absolutely need to be coming to the emergency department should come – but vulnerable patients should stay away.

“Vulnerable patients should not be coming to Tallaght, they should go to their GP first and seek alternative A&E services until this is sorted.”

Dr Gray believes that the hospital’s very poor isolation capabilities and overcrowding have heightened the situation, with a number of wards within the hospital being used as isolation units for patients who have tested positive or who are suspected of having CRE.

He said: “This effectively closes down wards for any new admissions and reduces the bed base in the hospital.

“Patients who need to be admitted can’t get a bed, and with the winter approaching, and illnesses such as MRSA and winter vomiting, the need for isolation goes up.

“The hospital has very poor isolation capacity and in the emergency department, our isolation capability is one.

“We had a situation last week where people who should have been in isolation were in a cubicle with a curtain for a door and sharing the same bathrooms.

“Infection control really gets out of hand when you don’t have isolation capabilities.”

Dr Gray believes that the hospital needs to invest in isolation infrastructure, or it won’t be able to deal with the superbugs that come and go.

“The hospital has great staff who are doing a lot of work in difficult conditions,” he said.

“However, the isolation infrastructure needs to be invested in and the overcrowding and poor levels of staffing addressed.”

Tallaght Hospital’s adult visiting hours are between 2pm and 4pm and 6.30pm and 8.30pm daily, with only one visitor permitted per patient.

Children are not permitted to visit in any circumstances and parents and guardians of paediatric inpatients are allowed to visit as normal, as the paediatric unit is not affected.

Tallaght Hospital is appealing to the public for their support in observing these restrictions and management would like to acknowledge the co-operation of the public in advance.

The hospital said that all appropriate precautions are being undertaken in line with national guidelines.

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