Report reveals hospital failings

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Patient equipment was “visibly contaminated with blood, dust and removable marks” during an operating theatre inspection at Borders General Hospital, pictured.

That was one of several health hazards discovered during an unannounced visit by health inspectors.

The Health Environment Inspectorate (HMI), which monitors cleanliness and hygiene to minimise the risk of infection in Scotland’s hospitals, has made seven “requirements” of NHS Borders in its report.

These include improvements in hand decontamination and the use of personal protective equipment by staff, the management of contaminated mop heads and the management of blood spillages.

The health authority is also required to ensure correct cleaning methods are employed, that theatre equipment is cleaned following each use and that all damaged equipment is replaced.

In its report published on Monday, the HEI states: “We saw numerous examples where staff were not using the correct dilution strength of chlorine-releasing disinfectant and detergent for cleaning blood and body fluid spillages.

“We observed that the method used to mop the floor was not consistent and resulted in blood being smeared around a greater area than was originally contaminated. The mop poles used by nursing staff between patients were significantly contaminated with blood and body fluids. We did not observe the mop poles being decontaminated between uses.

“We found that a significant number of items of patient equipment were visibly contaminated with blood, dust and removable marks.

“These included the base of a theatre bed, the underside of a theatre bed, the foot pedals used by surgeons during surgical procedures, an image intensifier and the cover and internal foam of a positioning piece.

“On the second day of our inspection … we continued to observe items of equipment being cleaned between patients or at the end of a case using a process that was incorrect. This resulted in recontamination of some areas of the equipment.”

On the issue of personal protection equipment (PPE), such as gloves, facemasks and aprons, inspectors said staff were “not disposing of these items appropriately”.

The report states: “For example, we saw staff moving from dirty to clean tasks without changing their PPE and without cleaning their hands, and staff walking out of – and returning to – the operating theatre wearing the same PPE.

“We observed that the majority of staff did not take the opportunity to decontaminate their hands between tasks.”