Qld Health not notified of Legionnaire's outbreak right away

The Wesley Hospital.
The Wesley Hospital. Australian Traffic Network

THE head of a hospital grappling with Legionnaire's Disease has conceded protocol was not followed when Queensland Health was not notified immediately about the infectious outbreak.

In hindsight, Uniting Care Health executive director Richard Royle says he should have double checked the state's Public Health Unit knew about it.

The mishap will be part of a Queensland Health investigation into how the discovery of Legionnaire's Disease in the hospital's water pipes was handled and whether policy reforms are needed.

The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane closed its doors to new patients after a man contracted the pneumonia-like disease from the hospital bathrooms and died last Sunday.

Another woman, a 46 year old cancer patient, contracted the disease this week and was placed in intensive care.

Hospital officials came under scrutiny on Friday over why Queensland Health was not informed about the disease until this week, despite the hospital being made aware on May 27.

The hospital confirmed results from a urine test of the dead patient were not passed onto the Public Health Unit automatically.

Mr Royle said the protocol followed by pathology companies was to notify the Public Health Unit about a Legionnaire's Disease diagnosis.

"That protocol should have been followed," he said.

"Should I have doubled checked? I probably should have and I accept that.

"The reality is that process should have been followed through by the pathology department and in this instance it wasn't."

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said it was "crystal clear" pathology was required to tell Queensland Health but whether the hospital was meant to speak up would be part of an investigation.

She said she was disappointed at not being notified earlier but was "thrilled" with how the Wesley Hospital had responded to the situation.

All Queensland public hospitals have been directed to check their own water supplies following the detection of Legionella bacteria in the Wesley Hospital water pipes.

It is expected to take five days to process the water samples.

Topics:  legionnaire's disease queensland health wesley hospital

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