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Thursday, Jun 01, 2023

Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority reveals concrete slab fell onto patient bed

Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority reveals concrete slab fell onto patient bed

Piece of concrete, about size of small backpack, fell onto empty bed at Castle Peak Hospital in November.

Hong Kong hospital authorities have revealed plans to review the maintenance of equipment and facilities at public medical institutions after it said a slab of concrete fell onto a patient bed, one of three similar incidents.

The Hospital Authority made the announcement on Monday a day after it confirmed a piece of concrete, which was about the size of a small backpack, had fallen onto an empty bed at the Castle Peak Hospital in Tuen Mun in November. It said no one was injured, but did not explain why it only disclosed the incident now.

In mid-February, a surgical light in United Christian Hospital fell and injured an anaesthesia assistant in the shoulder, while last week authorities ordered the inspection of ceiling hoists used to lift patients after an external cover fell off the track of one device at Tuen Mun Hospital.

The slab of concrete that fell onto an empty bed at Castle Peak Hospital in Tuen Mun in November.

An authority spokesman said a committee comprising experts from different professions, including the organisation’s board members, engineers and corporate communication specialists, would be formed to improve the policy direction for managing relevant issues in hospitals.

“Safety of patients and staff is the Hospital Authority’s utmost concern. The Hospital Authority has always been committed to providing a safe environment for our patients and healthcare staff,” he said.

The authority said it had requested all hospitals to complete preliminary inspections within one month and to strengthen existing maintenance.

Within three months, the committee would make recommendations on the response and overall management process in relation to several recent incidents tied hospital maintenance work, it said.

The committee would also complete a review of the current procedure and reporting mechanism between the authority’s head office and hospitals, as well as internal and external communication when incidents happened.

On the falling concrete slab, the authority on Sunday said a leak in the pipe on the floor above might have caused it to loosen and fall.

It said a maintenance contractor had completed repairs last December, and a building inspection consultant had finished checking other locations.

According to the authority, the consultant conducted a building survey at the end of 2021 and found no abnormality in the concrete.

The authority said it was very concerned about the incident and was dissatisfied with the consultant’s work.

It added that the firm’s performance would be referenced if it bid for authority projects in future and did not rule out taking further action if any violations were found.

The staff member at United Christian Hospital sustained a shoulder injury when the light fell from the ceiling. Experts found signs of metal fatigue in the screws used to secure the light to the ceiling, and the problem could have been identified if checks had been conducted properly, the authority said.

A thorough check of all surgical lights in public hospitals was also carried out.

Authorities ordered inspections of all ceiling hoists for lifting patients in public hospitals after a cover fell off the track of a device in a ward last Wednesday.

The authority said no patients or staff were injured by the 17cm by 9.5cm cover, and use of the hoist in question had been suspended immediately.

The ceiling hoist had been supplied by Arjo, a global medical technology company, while General Electric had carried out the maintenance, the authority said. It was inspected last August, and no abnormalities were detected.

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