Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hospital's CT scanner breaks again

July 30, 2010

Patients at Blue Mountains hospital have been put at risk after vital scanning equipment broke down, doctors say.

The computed tomography (CT) scanner - used to diagnose everything from fractures to cancer - was broken for more than a week. Doctors at the Katoomba hospital said the scanner was so old it had been considered obsolete since 2008, and it had broken down more than once.

While it was broken doctors had to transfer patients - potentially including emergency patients - to Nepean Hospital, an hour's drive away in Penrith. But a spokeswoman for the Sydney West Area Health Service said only four people had been transferred to Nepean and none were emergency patients.

A visiting medical officer at the hospital, who did not wish to be named, said the broken CT scanner delayed patient diagnoses: ''It affects patient management and safety.'' The chairman of AMA NSW's hospital practice committee, Brian Owler, said it should be replaced immediately.
Some staff and some in the community have criticised Blue Mountains hospital saying it is not given resources to function fully.

The Blue Mountains deputy mayor, Janet Mays, said the hospital was ''being downgraded essentially to a first-aid post''.

The area health spokeswoman said there were plans to replace the scanner by the end of the year.

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