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Full operations at C diff laboratory delayed by cyberattack

By Catherine Reilly - 15th Apr 2022 | 153 views

Medical News Ireland

The new C Difficile Infection (CDI) National Reference Laboratory is not yet fully operational due to the impact of the cyberattack last year, according to the HSE. 

Funding of €423,896 has been allocated to establish the reference laboratory, which is located at the Public Health Laboratory, Cherry Orchard Hospital, Dublin. 

“Due to delays and loss of connections caused by the 2021 cyberattack, the C difficile reference laboratory is not yet fully operational. Staff at the national reference laboratory are making every effort to process samples and are working towards being fully operational in due course,” outlined a HSE spokesperson. 

The establishment of the national reference laboratory “is of value in identifying otherwise unrecognised intra-and inter-hospital spread of C difficile and in defining the extent and pathways of spread. In addition to the hospital-acquired CDI there is a significant additional burden of CDI that is community-acquired.” 

Meanwhile, a meeting of the antimicrobial resistance and infection control oversight group in November 2021 noted nine cases of hospital-associated C difficile at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin in September. Cases at the hospital were “high and highest since July 2020”, according to minutes. 

Nationally, there were 58 reported cases of hospital-associated CDI in September, which was a rate of 1.9 per 10,000 bed days used (BDU). The 2021 target was <2 per 10,000 BDU. 

A Mater spokesperson told the Medical Independent the number of healthcare-associated CDI (HCA CDI) has been decreasing since the hospital, along with others in the region, was hit by a highly virulent strain in 2019. In 2020 the number of HCA CDI cases was 72, a rate of 3.71 per 10,000 BDU. In 2021 the number was 65, a rate of 3.17 per 10,000 BDU. 

“The Mater is aiming to reduce this figure further to the pre-2019 figures of 50–60 cases per year. However, it must be borne in mind that hospitals with more complex care delivery are likely to have higher rates of CDI. It is also important to note that there has been no suspected patient to patient transmission of the infection and no outbreak in the hospital during this time. This is reassuring as the hospital returned to complex activity and saw increases in emergency department attendances throughout 2021, while still managing patients severely ill with Covid.” 

The Mater employs “a range of infection prevention and control measures and has proactively adopted other measures to address and prevent HCA CDI”. 

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