New RAH denies claims equipment has not been properly sterilised
SA Health has confirmed there have been issues with the delivery of sterile surgical equipment to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital as unprecedented demands were placed on South Australia’s health system for yet another day.
But a senior surgeon at the new hospital said that did not mean equipment intended for surgical use had not been properly sterilised, despite claims made on Facebook by another health professional.
Emergency departments at the Flinders Medical Centre, Lyell McEwin and Modbury hospitals remained on “code white” for much of Wednesday, as health authorities put in place an emergency plan ease pressure on the hospital system.
Fifteen public patients were transferred to beds in a private hospital, while 25 people who called triple zero were referred to alternative care providers or the Royal District Nursing Service instead of being attended to by an ambulance.
The Salaried Medical Officers Association said doctors at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital had reported problems with the delivery of sterile surgical equipment.
Industrial officer Bernadette Mulholland said the issues had placed further pressure on emergency departments by delaying emergency surgeries.
“There’s been delays in the provision of sterile equipment for emergency theatre operations,” she said.
“There has been a lack of steam and hot water made available within some theatres so they have not been able to start their theatres on time.
“We’re also being advised that some of the equipment being delivered is not the equipment necessary for the operation, further delaying emergency theatre requirements.”
The new hospital’s director of surgical services, Professor Guy Maddern, confirmed some issues with the delivery of sterile equipment, which in the new hospital is being undertaken by private provider Spotless.
“Like some areas of the new hospital, we have experienced some minor teething problems related to reprocessing large volumes of equipment being transferred from the old RAH,” he said.
“Staff are working through these issues as quickly as possible and there has been no impact to patient care or safety.”
Professor Maddern denied claims made on social media by another health professional that equipment had not been appropriately sterilised.
“These claims are untrue and have been made by someone who is not an employee at the RAH,” he said.
“Instrument sterilisation is performed by highly trained staff in the Central Sterile Services Department, not Spotless, and we refute any claims that surgical instruments have not been appropriately sterilised.”
Repat closure could be delayed, Snelling admits
Shadow health minister Stephen Wade said the “teething problems” with sterile equipment was further proof the new hospital’s opening should have been delayed.
“The minister prophesied in 2015 that there would be teething problems and therefore we couldn’t move the hospital in the flu season. That’s exactly what he’s doing,” he said.
Health Minister Jack Snelling denied the move had placed extra pressure on the health system — despite the ramp-down of beds at the old hospital and subsequent ramp-up at the new hospital leading to fewer available beds.
Mr Snelling said his opposition counterpart had been hoping for something to go wrong with the move.
“Well guess what? It didn’t. Last week’s move to the Royal Adelaide Hospital went absolutely smoothly,” he said.
“If we were still at the old Royal Adelaide where we had shared bays, a smaller emergency department, limited access to medical imaging, we would still be in a world of pain.”
However, Mr Snelling would not rule out delaying the closure of the 200 bed Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park, due to take place within the next two months.
“If we had the sort of record presentations we’ve got at the moment then I’d be very loathe to do anything that would put any additional strain on the system.”
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