QEH: Emergency surgeries only
If you are scheduled to have surgery this week at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), it may be cancelled.
That’s because at an emergency meeting on Thursday, the surgeons decided it would be in the best interest of patient safety to limit use of the operating theatres to only life-saving procedures and emergencies. And their position has the support of director of medical services, Anthony Harris.
The decision taken by the Heads of Department Theatre Users’ Group is due to the continued shortages of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, plus problems with the autoclaves (used to sterilise surgical instruments).
These shortages were largely due to the QEH owing suppliers, given the slow release of funds from Government, compounded by the scarcity of some critical pharmaceuticals globally.
As for the autoclaves, the surgeons noted there was a need for a gasket replacement of the main autoclave in the operating theatre, while there was unreliable functioning of others in the Central Sterilising Supply Department.
In his note to QEH’s chief executive officer Dr Dexter James, a copy of which the DAILY NATION has seen, Harris wrote: “Through extensive discussion, it was urged collectively that the matter with autoclaves be resolved as soon as possible, and that for the interest of patient safety and the preservation of resources, that surgeries be limited to urgencies and emergencies in the immediate future. I support the unanimous decision and urge this matter be given your immediate attention.”
When contacted yesterday, James said he had not seen Harris’ letter, but was aware there were problems with the autoclaves and supplies of pharmaceuticals – pain management drugs in particular.
He explained there was a global shortage of some pharmaceuticals and this was impacting the QEH. Therefore, he would have to check whether the shortages referred to were within that group or if it related to suppliers.
James however gave the assurance that everything would be done to rectify the situation.
“Situations like this would have occurred in the recent past and we solved it. And this is just another challenge for us to get past . . . . I would hazard a guess that within a week or so, the situation will revert to normalcy because when situations like this arise, we take aggressive actions to address it.”
He added this included procuring drugs, sometimes at a higher cost, to ensure the QEH could sustain services. (SP)