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Victim caught swine flu in hospital

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  • Victim caught swine flu in hospital


    The Irish Times - Monday, December 14, 2009
    Victim caught swine flu in hospital

    EITHNE DONNELLAN Health Correspondent

    ONE OF the 20 people who have died from swine flu in the State is believed to have contracted the virus in hospital. The Health Service Executive confirmed yesterday that it ?strongly suspected? the swine flu contracted by one of those who died from the pandemic virus was hospital-acquired.

    ?It?s not always possible to determine with exact accuracy or precision where a patient may have contracted the virus. However, one patient who has died is strongly suspected to have contracted the virus in a hospital setting,? the HSE?s spokeswoman said.

    Asked if the deceased patient?s family were informed of this, the HSE spokeswoman could not say. She added, however, that ?it would be usual practice to tell the family?.

    The news comes just days after The Irish Times revealed several patients had picked up swine flu in Irish hospitals during the current pandemic.

    The HSE said 2 per cent of swine flu cases treated in hospital were reported to be hospital-acquired. With 1,003 patients having been treated in hospital for swine flu, that?s the equivalent of about 20 patients picking up the virus in hospital so far.

    Pat Doorley, HSE national director of population health, said the 2 per cent represented ?a relatively small number?.

    He said that while there was no published data on the level of in-hospital transmission of swine flu internationally, there is ?anecdotal evidence to suggest that there have been some episodes of hospital-acquired infections in other countries also?.

    The failure to follow proper infection control procedures including hand-washing by staff and visitors; having inadequate isolation facilities; and hospital overcrowding have been blamed in the past for contributing to many patients picking up other hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA.

    The same reasons are likely to have caused patients to have picked up swine flu in hospital in recent weeks. The HSE said infection control measures are implemented in all hospitals to minimise in-hospital transmission of the pandemic virus.

    ?The HSE policy on healthcare-associated infection advises that patients should be notified if they acquire an infection while in hospital. We have been putting this message out strongly through the hospital system in recent years,? it said.

    Reacting to the news that a person with the H1N1 virus had died after it was more than likely picked up in hospital, Dr Teresa Graham of the Stop Infections Now Campaign said she was not surprised.

    ?Judging by the Irish record on infection prevention and control in hospitals, I would have expected this. I?m not one bit surprised that this has happened,? she said.