Limerick Hospital Group had highest exposure to CPE superbug

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2025
University Hospital Limerick

The University of Limerick Hospitals Group recorded the highest number of cases of the CPE superbug in the country this year.

A new report from the National Public Health Emergency Team shows 401 patients were found to have the bug between January and November, a rise of 119 on the same time last year.

50 cases were recorded in the UL Hospitals Group, which was the highest in Ireland and follows an inspection report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) which revealed that dozens of patients at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) were exposed to the potentially lethal superbug.

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The announced inspection took place in September when more than 70 people had been in contact with the CPE superbug, which has developed resistance to strong antibiotics.

A review is now underway to find out if the bug caused or contributed to the deaths of any patients. 

The report acknowledged that an application from the hospital for additional infection prevention and control nurses as well as scientists and another pharmacist with expertise in antibiotics was turned down by the HSE.

On the day of the inspection, 449 patients were in the hospital and 95 needed isolation in single rooms. Only 42 were isolated and 28 were in wards with patients who were not an infection risk.

The standard of cleaning of patient equipment and the environment needed improvement in both the haematology and cancer ward and the surgical area.

A spokeswoman for the UL Hospitals Group said that infection prevention and control (IP&C) procedures and proper antimicrobial stewardship is taken with the utmost seriousness.

UL Hospitals has developed a quality improvement plan in regard to CPE.

“Apart from screening, this includes use of an isolation ward to reduce the risk of cross-transmission; flagging all CPE positive cases and CPE contacts and reporting new cases appropriately through our infection prevention and control team.

Since the new plan was implemented, the number of new CPE detections in UL Hospitals has decreased from 57 in 2015 to 43 in 2017.  

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