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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 00:03 GMT
Hospitals 'flouting hygiene rules'
Operating theatre
Levels of hygiene are causing concern
Hospitals are still re-using surgical equipment that is supposed to be discarded after one use, a study has found.

A survey by the Patients' Association suggests a government initiative to improve hygiene has led to some improvements in the way surgical instruments are decontaminated over the last 12 months.


What is needed is a fundamental change in cultural attitude

Mike Stone
Patients' Association
But it also found the number of respondents who admitted their hospital was re-using single use devices had actually jumped to 12% from 8% in a similar survey carried out in 2000.

This is despite Department of Health guidance banning the practice.

Mike Stone, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "This is no improvement on our survey findings last year, which suggests that what is needed is a fundamental change in cultural attitude at a senior level in these hospitals."

Mr Stone said only about one in two hospitals had a Single-Use Policy Committee in place.

"We urge hospital trusts to introduce such committees where they are absent, or alternatively ensure this responsibility is designated to an appropriate senior hospital committee."

Infection policies

Mike Stone, Patients' Association
Mike Stone expressed concern
Mr Stone was also concerned that one in five hospitals had failed to establish formal infection control policies for decontamination issues - again in contravention of government guidance.

Only just over one-third (34%) of respondents said their hospital's infection control policy was "always" reflected in day-to-day activity.

A new system of auditing decontamination procedures was introduced by the NHS last year.

The vast majority of respondents (83%) said that the new system had highlighted concerns about their hospital's decontamination process.

Almost all of these said their hospital would require extra resources to address these problems.

The survey - "The Decontamination of Surgical Instruments" - was carried out in conjunction with the Institute of Sterile Services Management (ISSM), the National Association of Theatre Nurses (NATN) and the Infection Control Nurses Association (ICNA).

See also:

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17 Nov 00 | Health
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11 Nov 01 | Panorama
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