"Poor infection control and degrading treatment "

About: Ninewells Hospital / General Medicine

(as a relative),

Soiled clothing is put in a bag and placed in the patients locker. This happens in at least two local hospitals.

Staff don't always seal the bags properly and in my experience they never explain to relatives that the bags contain excrement. Relatives are left to discover the soiled clothing in the patient's locker and then work out how to wash it.

This evening I found a bag of clothing containing excrement beside some food in my relatives locker. This is an infection risk and is also degrading to patients - which of us wants to sleep beside a cupboard containing excrement?

This has happened on many occasions and I have often thrown out good clothing because I can't face trying to wash it at home. I know I'm not the only person who has done this.

At the very least nurses should be sluicing the clothes, bagging them correctly and explaining to relatives what the bags contain and how to deal with them.

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Response from Caroline Hiscox, Associate Nurse Director, NHS Tayside

Dear rmark,

Thank you for getting in touch to share your recent experience. Without specific detail I would be unable to comment further however I can share what we would expect to happen.

We have clear guidance for staff in our infection control policy on the laundering of patient clothing. Patient clothing should be placed in patient laundry bags that can be placed directly into relatives' washing machines without the need for soiled clothing to be directly handled. Staff should also provide relatives with verbal and written guidance to assist them with laundering soiled clothes at home.

I am sorry that our expected standards are not what you experienced. If you would like to contact me through our feedback team at feedback.tayside@nhs.net we would be happy to explore why this did not happen on the occasions you referred to in your feedback.

Kind regards

Caroline McQuillian

Associate Nurse Director, NHS Tayside

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Update posted by rmark (a relative)


Thank you for your response. In my experience, the policy you outline was not followed. Staff only told me what to do when I asked why the clothes hadn't been sluiced.

I am baffled as to why your staff don't sluice - regardless of what your infection people might say, I can't imagine that anyone wants to take home an excrement filled bag to a domestic washing machine. Have you ever watched excrement slosh around your washing machine? If you have, then you will know that sometimes bits of it get stuck in the rubber seal on the door. Removing this is nauseating.

The other issue you haven't addressed is that your system requires patients to sleep beside excrement - I have seen these bags beside beds and in lockers. What message does that give to the frail old people who are admitted to your hospital?

In my view you should sluice, tell people what is in the bags and how to deal with this. You should also remove the bags from the patient's bedside and store them somewhere else. Anything less than this is indefensible.

My final point is this, do you think the health board could defend current practice if it appeared in the press? 'Frail granny sleeps in bed beside excrement' I don't plan to write to the press, but eventually someone will. I have seen this poor practice occur on ward 5 Ninewells and at RVH.

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