According to recent media reports the HSE has started writing to patients who were not told they had come into contact with the superbug Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) and that the HSE says those affected may be ‘upset and disappointed’ over the delay in informing them. Superbugs are strains of bacteria that are resistant to several types of antibiotics and patients who may have been exposed to the super bug CPE were not informed of this prior to their discharge from HSE run hospitals. The HSE describes CPE as the newest in a long line of 'superbugs' which if it gets into the blood stream can prove fatal. The Health Service Executive states of all the superbugs, CPE is the most difficult to kill with antibiotics. According to the HSE’s website, Ireland has seen an increase in the number of cases year on year - almost doubling in 2016 to 280 cases and is estimated to have increased by a third in 2017.
Last year, the Minister for Health highlighted the rapid and worrying increase in the incidence of CPE in Ireland, with a significant growth in the numbers of cases. The HSE noted the outbreaks which have occurred in 8 healthcare facilities resulting in high costs and bed closures. As a result, the Minister declared a public health emergency on 24th October 2017 and convened the National Public Health Emergency Team and activated the National Public Health Emergency Plan. The HSE now believes, based on testing, that approximately 2,000 people in the country carry the disease. The majority of carriers contracted the infection during a hospital visit. A recent external review into 73 deaths at hospitals in the University of Limerick Hospital Group between 2009 and 2017 found that the CPE superbug was a factor in ten patient deaths and directly caused 3 patient deaths.
From our experience, some hospitals will carry out infection screening tests for superbugs by way of a swab prior to surgery, where the infection if detected, can be treated appropriately. Infection following surgery is a known risk of any invasive procedure and in many cases, such an outcome will not equate to substandard care. However, in cases where there is for example, a failure in hygiene standards or a failure to diagnose and treat such an infection in a timely manner causing unnecessary injury, then a medical negligence claim may be pursued.
Cantillons Solicitors has recovered compensation for patients in the past who acquired hospital infections caused by superbugs including MRSA, necrotizing fasciitis and clostridium difficile.
Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or [email protected] if you would like more information.
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