NT health admits COVID-positive patient wandered around RDH emergency room


Extra security has been placed outside the rooms of COVID patients at Royal Darwin Hospital after NT health authorities conceded a recent infection-control breach put health staff and the community at risk.

Concerns were raised yesterday by hospital staff who detailed incidents of a COVID-positive patient leaving their isolation rooms and walking through the emergency department.

News Corp subsequently published comments from hospital clinicians decrying a lack of staffing that was exposing the hospital to “extreme COVID risk”.

A statement from NT Health said security staff were now stationed outside the COVID isolation rooms.

“Patients are clearly advised of their requirements to remain in the decompression room,” the statement said.

“However, in response to non-compliance, security staff are now also stationed at the decompression room to provide additional monitoring support to staff.”

A photo of a small hospital room with a bathroom attached and a small window.
COVID-19 patients at RDH are treated inside negative pressure isolation rooms.(

ABC News: Hamish Harty

)

This morning, NT Chief Health Officer Dr Hugh Heggie said he was aware of infection control breaches at the hospital.

“For people to actually leave [the isolation room], that is a problem for me because that’s putting themselves at risk … but also putting other health staff and the community at risk,” he said.

“There has needed to be extra security presence because of this.”

Yesterday, NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said she was not aware of “specific incidents” related to patient breaches at RDH.

The new security measures come as NT Health also conceded a hospital worker had recently entered the room of a COVID-positive patient without wearing PPE.

“At times, unintentional PPE protocol breaches occur,” the statement said.

“There are strict protocols in place to prevent protocol breaches, including ‘spotters’ and a zero tolerance for PPE breaches, which requires the worker to quarantine in accordance with clinical advice.”

The incident, which occurred on June 1, was “identified immediately” according to an NT Health spokesperson.

“As a precautionary approach, the staff member is undertaking 14 days quarantine and is undergoing daily screenings,” the spokesperson said.

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