Hong Kong News

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Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

Chunk of concrete falls next to ward-bed pillow

A chunk of concrete fell off at a Castle Peak Hospital ward and landed on a vacant bed, the third safety mishap at a public hospital revealed in less than a month.
The incident took place last November but the hospital in Tuen Mun specializing in psychiatric services and the Hospital Authority had not disclosed the incident until after it came to light over the weekend.

On Saturday two photos were posted on Instagram page "hanosecretshk" platform that receives reports from Hospital Authority employees and reposted anonymously.

The photos showed a concrete chunk - around A4 size to half of that of a pillow - dropped from the ceiling to an empty bed, with smaller pieces of concrete shattered on the bedsheet and pillow.

If someone was lying on the bed, the chunk could have landed on the patient's head, neck or right shoulder.

The concrete ceiling was covered by a dropped ceiling. The chunk was believed to have knocked a panel off the dropped ceiling, before the lump hit the bed and the panel landed on the ground.

In a reply to The Standard, a Hospital Authority spokesman confirmed the event occurred late November last year, and added no patient or staffer were hurt.

"A consultancy report pointed the reason for the loose ceiling chunk to seepage from pipes in the ward on the upper floor," the spokesman said.

Repair work had been completed by a contractor by early December and structural engineers deployed to inspect and maintain the entire hospital.

Before the incident, Castle Peak Hospital was last inspected in late 2021 but engineers did not find any abnormalities, the spokesman said.

He said the authority is concerned about the incident and has demanded a report from the inspection contractor after receiving the hospital's report.

"The Hospital Authority is very dissatisfied at the inspection consultancy's performance, and has recorded the event in the company's performance report, which will be used for reference when the company tenders for future projects under the HA," he said.

"To ensure safety, HA has already arranged structural inspections in other public hospitals. So far, none have been found with similar risks."

The spokesman reiterated that safety is the authority's top priority. "HA will continue to take various measures to protect the safety of patients and staffers," he said.

This is the third device safety scare in public hospitals exposed in three weeks.

Last Wednesday, part of an external cover from a ceiling hoist - used to lift immobile patients - at Tuen Mun Hospital broke and fell, just seconds after a patient had slid past the section.

On February 18, a surgical light tumbled onto an unused operating table at United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong.

Checks on 50 of the surgical lights in public hospitals found 15 more problematic lights, with experts pointing to metal fatigue in the screws as the cause.

Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau yesterday said the government reserved all legal rights against the surgical lights' manufacturer Getinge.

"Experts believe the problems could lie in the design, manufacture quality or maintenance," he said.

"The maintenance was provided by the manufacturer, who should have ensured there were sufficient professionals with the necessary materials and skills in charge of the aspect. We will look into this further."

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