2020 October: Royal Hobart Hospital D-Block (Tasmania) – Legionella

Legionella bacteria detected in Royal Hobart Hospital water supply

9 October 2020


Legionella bacteria has been detected in the water supply for the Royal Hobart Hospital’s D-Block.

The bacteria was detected during routine testing, a spokesperson from the Tasmania Health Service (THS) said.

The hospital will treat the water system with chlorine.

D-Block contains the hospital’s cardiology and neonatal and paediatric intensive care units.

During the treatment process, water supplies to D-Block will be unavailable for about six hours for drinking, hand-washing, showering and cleaning.

The THS said anti-bacterial wipes and bottled water had been delivered to the hospital.

Legionella bacteria can cause legionnaires’ disease, a severe and often lethal form of pneumonia.

Series of waterworks problems at hospital

Tim Jacobsen from the Health and Community Services Union said it was another unfortunate water issue for the hospital.

“Since the opening of K-Block, we know that still there are taps in that facility, in that new building that can’t be used,” he said.

“There has been problems with water getting into the place through … some of the glass roofing.

“Now, on top of that, we’ve got this legionella issue in the water in the D-Block area as well.

He said the bacteria could have “drastic consequences” if the bacteria was transmitted to a worker or patient.

“It is a nasty flu that can move to pneumonia, and that can be deadly, particularly to vulnerable patients in a hospital setting,” he said.

“Obviously, that’s not something that we want to see.”

Mr Jacobsen said it was a positive sign that the health department was immediately responding to the positive test for the bacteria, but will provide some logistical hurdles for staff.

“You can only imagine how difficult it will be for staff, particularly where they rely on huge quantities of water, both to do their job, particularly in areas like pathology et cetera,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Royal Hobart Hospital’s Medical Staff Association said it was happy with the way the bacteria detection was being handled, adding it would cause minimal disruption to the hospital overnight.