Hospital labour ward contaminated with blood

Hospital equipment at the ERI was found to be contaminated with blood.   Picture: Toby Williams

Hospital equipment at the ERI was found to be contaminated with blood. Picture: Toby Williams

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HOSPITAL bosses have been told to clean up their act after inspectors found birthing equipment on the wards were contaminated with blood.

Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) found “dirty and contaminated” mattresses in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s labour ward, A&E and a number of other wards during two unannounced visits in April.

The watchdog also discovered blood contaminations on patient bed frames and stirrups, commodes, mattress covers and birthing balls in the labour ward.

NHS Lothian welcomed the report, published yesterday, which it said singled out many areas for praise such as good infection control and general cleanliness in the hospital.

But the report was branded as “deeply concerning” by Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack, who said the public

needed reassurance that urgent action was being taken.

She said: “It’s deeply concerning that the inspection team found dirty or contaminated mattresses and equipment.

“It’s vital that hygiene is maintained throughout the hospital and that reusable

patient equipment is clean so that there’s no contamination.

“Patients need to have confidence that urgent action has been taken to implement these important recommendations.”

Inspectors said that while hand hygiene was “generally good” at the hospital, in the emergency department there was “poor hand hygiene practice” among nursing staff, ambulance staff and medical staff visiting from other parts of the hospital.

The staff were seen “missing 18 out of 22 opportunities to perform hand hygiene following contact with the patient surroundings”, the report found.

There were concerns raised about the risk of cross-infection as cleaning staff in a number of wards were also reusing rubber gloves.

However, the health board was praised by patients who described the ERI as “a very impressive hospital” and “second to none” when responding to the watchdog’s patient survey.

Jacqui Macrae, head of quality of care at Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “Overall this was a good inspection. The exception was the emergency department where we found poor hand hygiene practice from staff. We expect NHS Lothian to address our requirements at the earliest opportunity.”

NHS Lothian was issued with four requirements, including improving hand hygiene in the emergency department and ensuring reusable patient equipment was clean at all times.

Melanie Johnson, nurse director at NHS Lothian, said: “We welcome the report from the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate and we are pleased that some areas were singled out for individual praise, including good infection control management, combined with patient care and the general cleanliness of the hospital.

“We recognise there are things that can be improved and they have been addressed as a matter of urgency, including the cleaning of patient equipment and ensuring that hand hygiene is improved by all staff in the emergency department.”