Outbreak of “very difficult to treat” CPE superbug in Tallaght Hospital risked “significant morbidity and mortality”

A busy hospital struggled with an outbreak of a new variant of a dangerous superbug trying to manage patients who needed to smoke, medical students that ended up in a ward with infection, and allowing visitors for sick people.

Internal records said Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) in Dublin was dealing with a “very active and resistant outbreak” that could be associated with “significant morbidity and mortality”.

Hundreds of potential contacts were identified with progress reports saying there were “not many options” available to treat the variety of the CPE superbug that was spreading.

The outbreak was first notified to the board of the hospital in April of this year and remained open until the end of August, a TUH spokeswoman said.

The progress reports detail some of the measures that were introduced including “visitors restricted unless end of life” and how 95% of staff were compliant on hand hygiene training and that only those with this training should be allowed on the ward.

One update noted: “Leaflets to stop visitors coming from the atrium, leaflets to be distributed to patients, wording to be updated to advise patients to not leave the ward to go to the atrium (smokers will be a problem).”

Concerns were also raised over consultants who had visited the ward at the centre of the outbreak that were not “bare below the elbow”, that is they were wearing long sleeves, jewellery, watches, or other items that have the potential to carry infection.

Another note said: “Medical students doing exams were on [the ward] – the instruction was that they did not go [there]. [Staff member] to follow up with [colleague as to] why this happened.”