Rusty equipment may have been to blame for forcing surgical operations to be suspended at one of Queensland’s busiest hospitals, leaving patients waiting for scheduled surgeries.
Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, one of Australia’s leading teaching and research hospitals, was under the microscope when staff told the ABC they noticed rust on some of the equipment.
Health Minister Steven Miles confirmed there was a “malfunction with the sterilisation equipment” but said no patients were exposed.
“Due to a malfunction with the sterilisation equipment, the Princess Alexandra Hospital is only conducting emergency and urgent elective surgery today with reserve sterilised equipment,” the minister said on Friday.
“As always, patient safety is the priority. I have been advised that no patients have been exposed to unsterilised equipment.”
All but the most pressing operations have been cancelled.
Health authorities have not elaborated on the malfunction but technicians are urgently trying to fix the situation.
The hospital’s emergency department remains open and is accepting patients.
On Thursday night, a Metro South Hospital and Health Service spokesperson confirmed the issue to ABC News and said the hospital was “not currently conducting surgeries”.
Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said the minister needed to fully explain what went wrong, saying patients, their families and staff would be feeling stressed.
“Certainly when you’re sterilising equipment for theatre — and I have been a theatre nurse in the past — you need to be absolutely sure the equipment you have used, and the reports you have generated from the sterilised equipment, is accurate and that the instruments that you’re about to put inside a patient are sterile,” she said.
“Sterilised equipment should be checked regularly — it should be serviced and maintained regularly.
“If that’s not the case, then that’s put patients at risk of serious post-operative infections.”