HIQA’s healthcare team promotes safety and quality in healthcare services in Ireland. To do this, we inspect hospitals and other healthcare providers and talk to patients, staff and managers to determine if healthcare providers are meeting National Standards.

We then publish the findings of our inspection reports on our website. National Standards describe what patients and people using services should expect when they experience a healthcare service.

Our healthcare team can also investigate or carry out a service review into the safety, quality and standards of healthcare services if we believe there is a serious risk to the health and welfare of healthcare service users.

We monitor healthcare services provided or funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE). Furthermore, we regulate medical exposures to ionising radiation by both public and private providers. Apart from medical exposure to ionising radiation, we do not currently have a legal remit to regulate or monitor providers of private healthcare services.

Some of the different types of programmes we are currently monitoring are outlined below.

Prevention and Control of Healthcare-associated Infections

The ongoing reduction of healthcare-associated infection rates is one of the most important challenges facing health and social care services

Healthcare-associated infections are infections, such as MRSA (Meticillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus), that patients may acquire while receiving treatment for other conditions within a healthcare setting, such as a hospital. The ongoing reduction of healthcare-associated infection rates is one of the most important challenges facing health and social care services internationally.

Reducing these infections is vital to improve the quality and safety of care for people who use these services. We inspect public hospitals in Ireland to determine if they are meeting National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections. We publish guidance about the inspection programme and the findings from each hospital inspection on our website.

Read the guide to the 2019 monitoring programme here

Maternity services

Pregnancy and childbirth are normal physiological life-changing events and the majority of pregnancies are low-risk.

For a minority of women, even those considered to be at low-risk of developing complications, circumstances can change dramatically prior to, during labour and delivery or immediately following delivery, and this can place both the woman's and the baby's lives at risk.

HIQA will inspect all 19 maternity hospitals and maternity units in public acute hospitals from 2018 to 2019. These inspections will assess implementation of relevant National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services, including how maternity hospitals and units are led, governed and managed on a daily basis with a focus on obstetric emergencies. 

Read the guide to this monitoring programme here.

Medication Safety

Has been identified by a number of organisations in Ireland as a key focus for improvement.

Medication safety programmes have been introduced in many hospitals to try to minimise the likelihood of harm associated with the use of medicine, and in doing so maximise the benefits for patients.

We inspect public hospitals, focusing on medication safety for patients, to determine if the hospital is meeting the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare. We publish guidance about the inspection programme and the findings from each hospital inspection on our website. Read the monitoring programme guidance for 2019.

Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposures)

HIQA has become the competent authority for the regulation of providers (undertakings) of medical exposures to ionising radiation.

Every day, people are exposed to both natural and artificial sources of radiation and radioactivity.  Natural sources include radon and cosmic radiation, while artificial or man-made sources include medical ionising radiation and residual nuclear contamination. Radiation exposure from natural sources is difficult to eliminate; however, appropriate controls and regulation of the use of ionising radiation can help reduce or prevent inappropriate medical exposures.

From the 8 January 2019, the EU Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom, which sets basic safety standards for protection arising from exposure to ionising radiation, has been transposed into Irish law. This legislation has designated HIQA as the independent competent authority for medical exposures. This means that HIQA  regulates all service providers (undertakings) of medical exposures in Ireland against these regulations. Undertakings may include public hospitals, private hospitals, private clinics, dentists and any other facility that uses ionising radiation for medical exposures. The purpose of HIQA’s ionising radiation (medical exposures) regulatory programme is to promote better, safer practice across all undertakings using medical exposures in Ireland.

HIQA, through its monitoring and regulatory programmes, aims to provide assurances to the public that undertakings are implementing and meeting relevant medical exposures regulations and are making quality and safety improvements that safeguard all service users.