Beaumont Hospital in Dublin has been strongly criticised for poor hygiene practices following an unannounced inspection by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

HIQA says the problems identified at Beaumont on 23 July may have presented a serious risk to the health and welfare of patients.

Most doctors were not compliant with hand hygiene best practice and problems were found in the Emergency Department, neurosurgical intensive care unit and on the transplant ward.

Hand hygiene was not completed when the medical team went from patient to patient during ward rounds in the neurosurgical intensive care unit and in the Emergency Department, according to the report.

Inspectors also found that medical, anaesthetic and radiology staff wore the same protective apron throughout entire shifts and there was complete non-adherence to standard best practice.

In the neurosurgical ICU, ventilator wires were inadequately immersed in decontamination solution, sterilised patient wash-bowls were stored in a dirty area and a drug fridge was also unlocked.

In the transplant ward there was a sticky residue on headboards, resuscitation trolley drawers were unlocked and glucometer containers were stained with a blood-like substance.

The door to the Emergency Department clean utility room was propped open with a sharps bin, allowing access to needles, syringes and medicines.

Some sharps bins were two-thirds full, leading to the risk of needle-stick injuries.

In a statement, Beaumont Hospital said the findings of the report "are not acceptable" and said the hospital is committed to improving its compliance with the relevant standards.

It also said it was disappointed that existing measures to ensure the highest level of hand hygiene and standard precautions have not been effective.

The hospital said it had already carried out a number of actions, including all beds being deep cleaned.

An improved system for decontamination of ventilator wires was put in place, it said.

It says a new system has been introduced in the Emergency Department to help free up trolleys to facilitate more regular cleaning.

Revised arrangements for regular collection of clinical waste from ward areas to a central point have been introduced.

All resuscitation trolleys are now fitted with locking facilities and staff are being retrained on using these.

The Beaumont inspection report is one of five unannounced visit reports published today by HIQA on its website.

At the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, inspectors found a sanitary waste bin overflowing in the Emergency Department patient toilets, unclean temperature probes, ECG (electrocardiogram) equipment and a glucometer in the orthopaedic ward and untidy and cluttered clinical rooms.

There were no hand-wash facilities in a room where a patient with a suspected transmissible infection was and where the Emergency Department door was left open as standard.

At the Lourdes Orthopaedic Hospital in Kilkenny, inspectors said the paintwork needed attention and some equipment was dusty.

At Merlin Park University Hospital in Galway, isolated patients with communicable infections used communal bathrooms and sat outdoors.

Bins with used waste blood product bags were unsecured.

The inspection at the Mid Western Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick found dusty and sticky residue in areas.