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Ministry of Health Seeks Details from Hospitals

Ministry of Health Seeks Details of Hospital Inquiries

The Ministry of Health will seek details of inquiries in three New Zealand hospitals who employed an anaesthetist found to be re-using syringes in certain circumstances in Australia.

The doctor worked in Whangarei Hospital, and two private Whangarei hospitals - Mercy Hospital and Prime Care Day Stay Theatre - prior to working in Australia.

"I have asked these hospitals to provide me with a copy of reports from their investigations into anaesthetic procedures so we can properly assess safety concerns," said Director General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi.

"Following consultation with the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists, the Ministry of Health is also writing to all surgical hospitals to reiterate standard procedure is not to re-use syringes in any circumstances."

In Australia, it's claimed the doctor was re-using plastic syringes with a one-way valve that minimised, but did not eliminate, the risk of a backflow of blood. From what the Ministry understands, it should be made clear that the doctor was not re-using needles.

"While the valve the doctor used in Australia is not in use in Whangarei, similar types of valves are used in New Zealand. However, the accepted practice in New Zealand is that syringes are only used once to eliminate any risk of transferring infections to other patients," said Dr Poutasi.

Standards of anaesthesia are set by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and apply in both countries. The practice that was reported in Australia is unacceptable in both countries.

The Ministry of Health is seeking a full report of the inquiry by Australian authorities, and working with the Health Funding Authority on the matter.


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