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Health alert: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Sterilising maintenance works at PAH

23 August 2019

The Princess Alexandra Hospital is open and accepting patients.

Less than 24 hours after a malfunction was detected with the sterilisation equipment used to prepare instruments for theatre, our investigation has identified a cause.

Director of Infection Control at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Dr Geoffrey Playford confirmed that equipment is sterile, however a chemical in the process is leaving a residue on the packaging.

“Our investigation has revealed that a change to the chemical added to the steam boilers, which is safe, improves the quality of the steam by altering things like the pH and oxygenation of the steam, is leaving a residue on the wrapping of those sterile packs.

“We can confirm the instruments are sterile, we have tested them over and over, we are working to remove the chemical residue from the steam lines now,” he said.

He confirmed that PAH complies with Australian standards for sterilisation and there is no risk to the effectiveness of the sterilising process.

“As always, patient safety is our priority and we can confirm that no patients have been exposed to unsterilised equipment,” Dr Playford said.

“Elective surgeries are not scheduled for weekends, so this will allow us enough time to finalise the purging of the steam lines to remove the chemical trace.”

PAH is performing some emergency surgical procedures using reserve sterilised equipment, however elective surgery has been rescheduled at this time. We thank the community for their ongoing understanding as we do this.

All patients who have been affected with changes to elective surgery will be contacted and rescheduled.  We apologise profusely to the patients who have been affected by this rescheduling.

In brief

  • Equipment used in PAH theatres has been assessed as sterile – there is no safety risk to patients.
  • 18 patients were postponed on Thursday and 28 were postponed on Friday.
  • We anticipate that sterilisers at PAH will be operational following the purging of steam and ongoing testing.
  • Maintenance of sterilisation equipment is an ongoing program every month involving the machines, the boilers, 10 kilometres of steam pipe, water reservoirs and associated joinery.
Last updated 23 August 2019
Last reviewed 23 August 2019

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