2021/22: Legionella found at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

Legionella bacteria found again at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital after man died with the infection

May 4 2022


A potentially deadly bacteria has been detected again at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, reigniting health concerns after a recent death.

Legionella was found in three water outlets, a North Metropolitan Health Service spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.

It comes after Guyren Mayne died in October after becoming infected with the bacteria — which he picked-up during his hospital stay.

The spokesperson said no new patient infections had been identified and no rooms had been closed.

“As part of our enhanced water management plan which involves regular testing of more than a thousand water outlets, we recently detected the presence of legionella pneumophila in three water outlets (hand basin taps) located in an outpatient area and ward room,” they said.

“The finding of legionella in a water system is not unusual, especially from outlets that are not in regular use. Remediation includes placing a bacterial filter on the water outlets (taps) to render them immediately safe, as well as treating them to remove the bacteria.”

Testing and resampling of the water is ongoing.

SCGH has come under fire recently for waiting four months to inform Mr Mayne’s family that he contracted legionella before he died.

Although, NMHS acting chief executive Tony Dolan said there were changes to the next-of-kin which delayed the open disclosure process.

Freedom of Information requests by The West also revealed water levels at the hospital had bacteria counts 70 times the level considered safe.

Shadow health minister Libby Mettam has previously accused the McGowan Government of a “cover-up” after NMHS last year denied any water contamination.

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson has been contacted for comment.

Legionella bacteria found at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital after patient post-mortem

Dec 2 2021


A detection of Legionella bacteria at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth has led to 16 rooms being treated for the bacteria and two patients receiving precautionary antibiotics.

A deceased patient, who had been receiving palliative care, was found to be infected with Legionella pneumophila during a post-mortem examination.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the North Metropolitan Health Service said it could not be concluded the person had died as a direct result of Legionella pneumophila.

“The hospital does not receive the Coroner’s autopsy report so it is not possible to determine the contribution of the Legionella,” she said.

After the infection was confirmed, water filters were installed in two rooms where that patient had been receiving care.

Initial samples showed a positive result for Legionella pneumpohila in those rooms and heated water flushing was conducted.

One of the rooms was reopened but the other remained closed.

The hospital then treated 14 other rooms which had to be closed for two hours, but all had since been reopened.

“Following the immediate application of bacterial filters to the two rooms and their remediation, together with a comprehensive inpatient review, the risk to staff and patients was considered extremely low,” the North Metropolitan Health Service spokeswoman said.

“However, as a precautionary measure two patients who were considered at high risk on the same ward were informed and agreed to receiving a prophylactic antibiotic.”

The spokeswoman said it was not uncommon for some bacteria to be found in a hospital’s water supply and Sir Charles Gairdner was regularly tested.

Legionella bacteria can lead to the potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease.

Health Minister ‘disappointed’ he was not told

Health Minister Roger Cook denied claims made by the Opposition that he had dismissed the issue when it was raised in parliament last week.

“I have received no brief to the effect that there is any concern with the hospital water at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital,” Mr Cook said at the time.

In a statement released on Thursday evening, Mr Cook said he appreciated the hospital had taken action to limit the risk to patients.

But he was critical of the fact that he was not informed of the issue until after it was raised in parliament.

“I have written to the chair of the North Metropolitan Health Board to this effect,” he said.

“It is essential that significant matters such as these are identified and brought to my attention.”

In a statement, the North Metropolitan Health Service Board chair David Forbes told the ABC he acknowledged Mr Cook’s disappointment.

“[I] deeply regret not adequately informing him about the situation in a timely manner,” he said.

“I plan to address the Minister’s concerns with him.”

Call for better access to post-mortem reports

Mr Cook also said the incident had highlighted a need for doctors to have access to post-mortem reports.

“This matter also highlights the concerning issue of hospitals and treating clinicians not having access to patient post-mortems,” he said.

“I have spoken with the Attorney-General about this and we are in firm agreement it needs to change.

“The Attorney-General is progressing legislative changes to the Coroners Act to allow post-mortem results to be provided to clinicians and hospitals so they know the cause of death.”

Opposition health spokeswoman Libby Mettam said she remained concerned about the contamination.

“Our heart goes out to the family involved,” Ms Mettam said.

But Mr Cook said he had been reassured there was no ongoing risk.

“I appreciate that Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital took immediate action to limit any potential risk to patients from water contaminated with Legionella,” he said.