‘No qualms’ about use of sterilisation process

Stephen Mark
Stephen Mark
A rumour about an unsafe sterilisation practice being used during a urology super-clinic reflects resistance to change and outmoded systems at Dunedin Hospital.

That was the view of Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand chairman Stephen Mark, of Christchurch, when asked about concerns reportedly felt by some nursing staff at Dunedin Hospital.

"I have no qualms about the concerns raised  — we dealt with them at the time.

"The systems that were undertaken in Dunedin had led to these problems [with the waiting list], and we needed to look at how we do things in a more current, contemporary and more cost-efficient way," Mr Mark said.

The society organised the super-clinic of 600 patients last month using new methods and external clinicians alongside hospital staff.

Sterilisation was performed at the bedside with a liquid solution.

This was normal in other hospitals, but not in Dunedin. In Dunedin instruments usually went to a central sterilisation unit to be put through a steam process. As it was new for Dunedin Hospital, the bedside practice was audited by the infection control team, with no concerns raised.

"The nurses’ concerns were based on [it being] something different, rather than any understanding of the background theory and process around it. The processes are different."

Patients had not been put at greater risk of infection.

He hoped the practice would be adopted permanently, but it was a Southern District Health Board decision. Asked about the comments of veteran urologist Kampta Samalia, who blasted his bosses for turning the clinic into a "publicity stunt", Mr Mark said he understood the underlying frustration.

"K. P. [Samalia] has done a really good job of holding the Dunedin urology service together on his own for a very long time."

Mr Samalia gained two specialist colleagues in 2014 after several years as the sole  urologist. New Zealand Nurses Organisation organiser Lorraine Lobb could not be contacted for comment.


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