Hospital report suggests that industrial action has resulted in unacceptably high infusion phlebitis rates


Intravenous news: The Times of Malta report “The rate of vein inflammation among patients at Mater Dei Hospital has escalated after a nurses’ union directive came into force three months ago, The Sunday Times has learnt. The condition, called phlebitis, was previously rare with just three cases a year but when contacted hospital CEO Joe Caruana said they were now witnessing four cases a month.

In September, The Sunday Times had reported that nurses were instructed to stop filling in the Visual Infusion Phlebitis (Vip) score chart – a daily nursing assessment put in place to minimise a patient’s risk of infection. The Vip score is also a vital part of the hospital’s efforts to reduce the bloodstream infections caused by antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA. One of the most important interventions in any hospital is an intravenous drip. However, this requires an unavoidable break in the patient’s skin, which can serve as a direct shortcut for microbes between the skin and the blood.

Mr Caruana, together with the hospital’s board of directors, was concerned that whenever hospital staff traced back each case of phlebitis they discovered the Vip score chart would not have been filled in. “Luckily, several nurses are putting patients’ safety first and not following the directive, but where it was not filled in we have witnessed a substantial increase,” he said.

The action is part of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses’ attempts to change the opening hours of the hospital’s salary section and make it more accessible to its members who needed to address inaccuracies in their pay cheque.”

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