THE HEALTH SERVICE Executive has said that it is continuing to investigate cases where patients at Beaumont Hospital may have been operated on with surgical instruments possibly contaminated with the brain disease CJD.
The concerns follow the possibility that in some cases the instruments were used on patients after they were previously used on a patient subsequently diagnosed with CJD.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, commonly known as CJD, is a very rare form of dementia that is not curable and is fatal. It has been often referred to as the human form of mad cow disease. Instruments that would normally have been destroyed as normal sterilisation techniques are not sufficient for CJD cases.
It can be passed through contaminated surgical instruments, meaning anyone who may have handled or been operated on with an instrument that is contaminated is potentially at risk.
The HSE says the checks are currently confined to patients who were operated on by the instruments and that presently other patient cases are not being investigated.
The patients involved will be contacted in the coming day or days and may be brought into the hospital to speak to doctors afterwords according to the executive.
The HSE is stressing that there is only potential risk and no definite link has been made but that an expert group is working on the problem.
Beaumont have opened a helpline (1800 302 602) from 8.00am this morning to respond to concerned patients.
In a statement, the HSE said: “Beaumont Hospital is receiving advice from the Irish Panel on TSE (CJD) and from world experts in the UK, who have dealt with similar cases in the UK and worldwide.
“This group is assessing the circumstances of this case to determine what, if any, risk may exist for other patients. Further information will be available once this group has completed its assessment.”
It is reported that an operation was carried out on a patient at Beaumont around two weeks before the diagnosis of that patient with the disease. This means the instrument was not isolated until that time and may have been used on other patients.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this Morning Stephen McMahon expressed fears of an information deficit for patients of teh hospital.
CJD is a rare illness with only 30 cases reported to health authorities between 2005 and 2011.
Additional reporting Rónán Duffy