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Heartlands Hospital: Salmonella outbreak leads to death

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image captionIn total 32 staff and patients were infected by salmonella at Heartlands Hospital

A report has found a salmonella outbreak at a Birmingham hospital directly caused the death of a patient.

The outbreak at Heartlands Hospital in Bordesley Green, between 25 May and 18 June 2014, saw 32 staff and patients infected.

Five of those patients, who were seriously ill, later died, but salmonella was not directly responsible, the report said.

The outbreak was traced to contaminated eggs produced in Bavaria, Germany.

Prof Eric Bolton's report found inadequately equipped wards, unmonitored food preparation, and poor cleaning helped it spread.

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image captionSwabbing across 20 sites in the hospital found salmonella on a food trolley

The main part of the outbreak was the 14 cases on the Beech and Rowan wards, which dealt with orthopaedic trauma and surgical patients.

Poor cleaning was blamed for the spread of the illness in the wards, the report commissioned by Heartlands Hospital said.

G4S were contracted to clean at Heartlands, although the report said "There was no evidence that this difference in service provision contributed in anyway to the salmonella outbreak."

'Blame and isolation'

Initial swabbing found a food trolley in the Beech ward, left near a toilet, to be contaminated with salmonella.

There were staff shortages on the two wards, which led to them feeling a sense of "blame and isolation".

"On reflection these staff were taking the brunt of the salmonella infection issues and became a little demoralised during the outbreak," the report said.

Main report recommendations:

  • The Heart of England NHS Trust should review its infection control and cleaning services to ensure they meet the requirements of The Health and Social Care Act 2008
  • The trust should review the need for a plan that deals with major incidents or outbreaks
  • The trust should regularly review major policies that relate to patient safety and infection control procedures as a number were overdue for review
  • The trust should review all of its high-risk, specialist wards in the light of the experience from this outbreak and ensure that the ward environment and equipment is fit for purpose
  • The trust should ensure that all ward staff handling food undertake food hygiene training
  • The trust should have an ongoing review of the relationship with G4S to address any ward-based staff concerns about the service
  • The trust should review the communications strategy for ward-based staff, who do not have daily access to email, especially when there are outbreaks on wards

A trust spokesman said: "The trust initiated a full and detailed multi-disciplinary investigation, which identified that the hospital was thorough and timely and interventions were put in place.

"The safe care of patients remains our priority and using the learning outcomes from the outbreak, steps are being taken to prevent this from happening again including a review of infection control and cleaning services."

Related Topics

  • Birmingham

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