No procedure for early flu detection at Nazareth House - HIQA

A report into the nursing home where seven residents died following a flu outbreak has found there was no procedure for an early detection of influenza.

A report into the nursing home where seven residents died following a flu outbreak has found there was no procedure for an early detection of influenza.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published a report into the Nazareth House nursing home, Fahan after nine elderly residents died between March 22 and April 8. Seven of the deaths have been classified as possibly caused by an influenza related illness.

Two inspections by HIQA found deficits in the standard of cleanliness and hygiene and the maintenance arrangements for equipment. A number of shower chairs and commodes were not in a satisfactorily clean condition and were rusty. The report was also critical of communication procedures at the home, which can accommodate 48 residents. It found that senior management was not communicated with in a timely manner and there was a lack of clarity and accountability about how information on the outbreak had been reported.

HIQA also found there was a lack of coordination of information available for residents who were diagnosed with a respiratory illness.

There was also no system to alert professionals to the possibility of an influenza outbreak and this created additional risk, HIQA said. The inspectors concluded that a protocol would help ensure that outbreaks are appropriately identified, reported and contained.

HIQA also found that there were insufficient nurses on duty to address the increased workload during the outbreak. There were also deficits in aspects of infection prevention and practice and some areas did not have appropriate accessible supplies of products such as hand gels to assist in good infection control management. Staff training records indicated that not all staff had been trained in infection prevention and control.

“The findings of the independent report on Nazareth House in Fahan are shocking. The Minister will have to confirm without delay that the HSE will act immediately on the recommendations within the report,”, Fianna Fáil’s Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has said.

Deputy Kelleher commented: “It is not good enough that staffing levels are so low that patient care is jeopardised in 2012. Patient care is clearly being neglected and extra nurses need to be recruited immediately. Families need reassurance that their loved ones are being cared for properly.

“Proper procedures need to be put in place immediately and Minister Reilly needs to take a personal interest into making sure action is taken to prevent neglect.

“Minister Reilly should also ensure that standards are maintained in all Nursing Homes across the country and should make adequate funding available to allow inspections and improvements to take place.”

Donegal North-East Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue added: “The deaths of nine residents at the home at the end of March and early April was a very distressing experience for the families of the deceased and of other residents at Nazareth House and indeed for dedicated staff working there. It is important that lessons are learned from this so that the chances of this happening anywhere again are minimised in every way possible and that the Health authorities provide the oversight and support services necessary to ensure that residents get the best possible care.”