Breast milk kept ‘too warm’ at Yorkhill Hospital

Incubators were also found to be dusty by inspectors. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Incubators were also found to be dusty by inspectors. Picture: Donald MacLeod

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EXPRESSED breast milk was stored at the wrong temperature in a children’s hospital, inspectors have found.

NHS guidelines state that it should be refrigerated at between 2C and 4C (35.6F to 39.2F) but records showed it was stored at temperatures of up to 7C (44.6F) on four wards at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill) in Glasgow.

Staff were also not clear on the correct temperature range at which the expressed milk should be stored.

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) has issued three requirements and one recommendation following the unannounced inspection visit on 16 and 17 December last year.

This included an urgent requirement that refrigerated expressed breast milk should be stored appropriately and that documentation should reflect best practice, to reduce the risk to patients.

Inspectors found that the majority of wards and departments inspected were clean and that there was good compliance with standard infection control precautions, such as hand hygiene.

They found that the majority of patient equipment inspected was clean but that some items were dusty, including the undercarriages of five out of six incubators in the neonatal intensive care unit. Two out of five patient trolleys and beds in the Schiehallion unit were found to be contaminated.

On the issue of infection control, they found that patients with suspected or known infections were isolated appropriately, but that on ward 4A all seven isolation room doors were open.

Medical staff explained that there can be occasions when the door needs to remain open for safety reasons, such as being able to hear a patient if the relatives are not in the room with their child.

HEI senior inspector Alastair McGown said: “This inspection found evidence that the Royal Hospital for Sick Children is working towards complying with the majority of standards to protect patients, staff and visitors from acquiring an infection.

“We observed good staff ­compliance with hand-hygiene practices and found a high standard of environmental cleanliness across the wards and departments inspected.

“However, we did find that improvements are needed to ­ensure patient equipment is clean and ready for use, and to ensure that expressed breast milk is stored appropriately.

“This inspection resulted in three requirements and one recommendation. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde must address these areas as a matter of priority. We will follow up these concerns at future inspections.”

Inspectors issued an urgent requirement that the health board should ensure all patient equipment is clean and ready for use to reduce the risk of cross-­infection. It also asked NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to ensure that patient risk assessments, leading to the decision to leave isolation room doors open, are documented in patient healthcare records.

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children will be moving to a new building at the site of the old Southern General in Glasgow in a phased move starting in the late spring.

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