REVELATIONS that a senior health worker with HIV assisted at operations and was in regular contact with patients at Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, have been condemned by Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne.
He told The Mayo News last night ‘the HSE must ensure that this never happens again, anywhere in Ireland’.
“The news that 63 patients have to be screened in Mayo General Hospital this week, because it has emerged this health worker has HIV, will cause unnecessary worry for the people involved. I understand this problem has been ongoing for a lengthy period of time and should receive the most urgent attention,” Cllr Kilcoyne said.
The Mayo News understands the health worker, who may have been in a senior position, assisting at operations, is not an Irish national, and no longer works at the Castlebar hospital. However, the HSE West declined to comment on this.
In a statement, it did confirm, that 63 patients have been asked to attend for screening this week ‘as a result of a diagnosis of HIV in a healthcare worker who worked at Mayo General Hospital’.
It stressed: “The risk to patients is extremely low, however, screening is good practice and is being undertaken as a precautionary measure.”
The spokeswoman said the GPs of those affected would be contacted yesterday morning (Monday), to make arrangements for their patients to be tested and, moreover, that the relevant patients would be contacted directly by letter.
A 2005 HSE report, on preventing blood-borne diseases, says there have only been two incidents worldwide of health workers transmitting HIV to a patient. Furthermore, international research identifies the risk of transmission as extremely unlikely.
Similar investigations in the UK over the past 20 years, which tested 10,000 patients, have never identified a case of HIV infection from a healthcare worker.
The HSE statement noted that, while Department of Health guidelines for the prevention of transmission of blood-borne diseases does not recommend screening for healthcare workers for HIV, it is currently under review. The statement also confirms that all healthcare employees have an obligation to inform their employer if they may have contracted a blood borne virus.
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