Qld behind other states on legionella monitoring

24 June 2013
Queensland needs more comprehensive testing and monitoring for potential legionella risks to bring the State's hospitals in line with other states, says Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Maurice Blackburn medical law expert Sarah Atkinson said the recent legionella outbreak at a Brisbane private hospital had found Queensland's current procedures for monitoring the risks were inadequate and lagged behind other states and territories.

"For example, a national standard has been in existence for monitoring and managing legionella risks in water supplies since the late 80s," Ms Atkinson said.

"This standard recommends regular cleaning, maintenance and disinfecting of water supplies.

"The standard was introduced following a death from Legionnaire's disease in Queensland in 1985, yet Queensland hasn't implemented the standard in legislation - something that has been done in New South Wales, Western Australia and the ACT.

"Other states have introduced specific procedures around legionella and water testing, yet in Queensland only a broader infection management procedure is in place for health facilities.

"While recent moves to undertake testing are welcome, it is concerning that so soon into this testing process a number of Queensland hospitals have already identified they have legionella bacteria in their water supplies and are having to now respond to this.

"Regular testing should have already been in place to protect patients - particularly given the risks of legionella bacteria and how an outbreak can occur are well known.

"It's critical that the investigation currently underway by Queensland Health looks at these issues and acts to bring Queensland in line with other states as soon as possible in ensuring we have thorough checks and balances for monitoring hospital water supplies," she said.

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