Page 5813 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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Canberra Hospital—tuberculosis exposure
(Question No 443)

Mr Hanson asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 19 November 2009:

(1) In relation to the exposure of a number of people to tuberculosis at The Canberra Hospital (TCH) in late August and early September 2009, can the Minister specify the dates between which the tuberculosis exposure occurred at TCH and in what units within TCH the exposure occurred.

(2) How many people have been tested, to date, for tuberculosis and is contact tracing still occurring.

(3) How many people are being treated for tuberculosis and what strain of tuberculosis has been identified.

(4) What ongoing support is ACT Health providing to people that have been tested or treated for tuberculosis and has ACT Health established a dedicated team to support and communicate with affected individuals and their families.

(5) Has the Minister, the Government or ACT Health formally apologised to all individuals affected; if so, what form did the apologies take and when were they given.

(6) What reviews is ACT Health conducting following the exposure of people to tuberculosis at TCH.

Ms Gallagher: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) Tuberculosis exposure occurred at TCH between 28 and 30 August 2009 and between 3 and 6 September 2009 in the Maternity Unit only.

(2) Contract tracing is voluntary and is still occurring. As at 2 December 2009, 107 contacts of case have been identified. At TCH 58 contacts have been identified of whom 42 contacts have been screened. Those that have not arrived for screening have been sent reminders.

(3) One person is being treated for tuberculosis and the strain is Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

(4) ACT Health TB services are based in the Department of Thoracic Medicine at the Canberra Hospital. TB Services are a core business function of the unit. Public Health response to TB notification is provided by the unit. All cases and contacts are provided ongoing education, support and counselling as part of the standard process of TB contact tracing.

(5) The ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Charles Guest apologised publicly in the media on 11 September 2009.

(6) ACT Health has reviewed the circumstances related to the exposures including whether any hospital polices and procedures were breached.

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