A review of hygiene standards in hospitals has given nine of the 50 hospitals a poor rating
Only one of the 50 acute hospitals assessed in the past year has been given a very good rating.
The Health Information and Quality Authority sent its assessors into hospitals unannounced over an eight-week period.
Six hospitals were sent a 'risk letter' after the authority identified a specific risk to hygiene in each one.
Eight hospitals received a worse rating than last year.
However, the HSE says that overall, there have been significant improvements in performance.
It says that the number of hospitals receiving a 'good' or 'very good' award from HIQA rose from 7 in 2007 to 12 in 2008.
Welcoming the report, Dr Paul Kavanagh, HSE Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety, said the report 'provides clear independent evidence that the HSE is providing care to patients in hospitals that are cleaner, year on year'.
Minister for Health Mary HArney also welcomed the report and said that the Department of Health as well as the HSE are examining the results so they can take further targeted initiatives to ensure that the measurable improvements achieved in 2008 are built upon in 2009.
She said that 'the aim is that the high standards that have
now been achieved in some hospitals must be replicated right across the service'.
Hospitals that achieved a poor rating include the Mid Western Regional Hospital, Ennis, Letterkenny General Hospital and St Colmcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown in Dublin.
Read the full report, or select a report on an individual hospital here.
The report says that on average, progress on hygiene has been made. But it recommends that the Health Service Executive should co-ordinate a formal process of sharing and publishing good practise between hospitals that perform well and those that do not.
It also recommends that the HSE organises a national plan to implement standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections.