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MRSA outbreak contributed to illness severity in babies who died

By Catherine Reilly - 17th Jul 2018

An MRSA outbreak at the Rotunda Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) contributed to the severity of illness in two babies who died due to the complications of prematurity.

The outbreak occurred from February to April, a hospital spokesperson told the <strong><em>Medical Independent</em></strong> (<strong><em>MI</em></strong>). Board minutes seen by <strong><em>MI</em></strong> said the “internal development of the campus” was “essential to control and contain such outbreaks”.

The Board heard that it was the eleventh infectious outbreak in two years at the NICU. “All necessary precautions and control measures have been activated,” stated the minutes.

The MRSA outbreak affected six babies in total. “Of those, two babies died of complications of prematurity, but in whom MRSA infection would have contributed to the severity of illness,” said the hospital’s spokesperson.

They added: “The [11] outbreaks refer to different organisms and to clusters of infections such as VRE [vancomycin-resistant <em>enterococci</em>], respiratory viral infections, ESBLs [extended spectrum beta-lactamases] and ventilator-associated pneumonia. It should be noted that the majority of patients with multi-drug resistant organisms are colonised only, with the organism being detected through the rigorous weekly screening programme for such organisms that the Rotunda NICU has in place.

“This enhanced screening programme allows the hospital to identify colonised patients before they develop infection to both tailor antimicrobial regimens to best suit their care, and also facilitate earlier isolation and enhanced infection control measures.”

An outbreak refers to two or more cases of either an infection or colonisation with a multi-drug resistant organism, when the patients are linked epidemiologically in terms of time and place. “The Rotunda NICU has a very low threshold for calling such outbreaks and it allows us to bring in additional measures quickly,” added the spokesperson.

The Rotunda’s NICU is being renovated at a cost of €2.1 million and this work should be completed by October. However, while the renovation will improve the NICU’s general appearance and fire safety, the hospital said “it will not provide any additional space, which is the main challenge at the moment for infection risk”.

Meanwhile, the Rotunda said there were “no new updates available in relation to the move to Connolly [Hospital]. The Department of Health has made no commitment regarding either funding or necessary upgrades required at Connolly.”

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