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‘Medically fit’ patients caught covid while waiting for discharge, trust admits

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A hospital trust has admitted that ‘medically fit’ patients caught covid on its wards while waiting to be discharged, with some of the cases under investigation.

Bedfordshire Hospitals FT board papers said that a “number” of medically fit patients “acquired [covid] infection while awaiting appropriate and safe discharge”.

Trusts nationwide have struggled to discharge patients as quickly as they wanted, the reasons including a Department of Health and Social Care mandate to only allow designated care homes to accept covid patients; the resumption of NHS Continuing Healthcare tests; shortages of community beds; and capacity in the care sector.

The trust, formed in April by the merger of Luton and Dunstable University Hospital FT and Bedford Hospital FT, said a “significant proportion of [its covid] cases [were] due to acquisition in the hospital”.

It continued: “A significant additional factor was the length of stay for many patients who were medically fit for discharge but were unable to return to their place of residence. Case reviews have shown that a number of these patients acquired infection while waiting appropriate and safe discharge.”

The board papers said its covid serious incident reviews covered “some deaths on both sites… and the majority [were] patients with very severe co-morbidity”. It said six out of 15 serious incidents being investigated at its Bedford hospital site were “of potentially avoidable nosocomial covid infection (hospital acquired)”.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 4 Februrary 2021

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