Materia Medica Malaysiana

September 30, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:42 am

Kuala Lumpur Hospital latest casualty of faulty air-conditioning system

KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s premier public hospital has become the latest casualty of a faulty air-conditioning system.

Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL), the national referral centre, plans to have operations scheduled for the next one week moved to the Selayang Hospital while work was being carried out to repair the 13-year-old system.

HKL performs about 1,000 surgeries a month at its 33 operation theatres.

Admitting that there had been problems with the air-conditioners since August, HKL director Dr Jalal Halil Khalil said five of the 15 compressors needed to be replaced at a cost of RM1.5million.

He said work started on Tuesday and was only expected to be completed on Oct 6.

Dr Jalal added that the orthopaedic and urology departments were also affected by the faulty compressors.

Asked why it took so long to replace the compressors, Dr Jalal said this was because the units, costing RM150,000 each, had to be ordered from the United States.

However, he stressed that emergency operations would still be carried out at HKL.

This is the third hospital whose services, including operations, have been disrupted by faulty air-conditioning.

On Sept 15, The Star reported that services at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang had been badly hit by faulty air-conditioning. All elective operations were postponed at the hospital, which schedules about 20 daily.

Three days ago, the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru had to be temporarily closed after fungus was found on the walls and in some of the clinical equipment. The fungus was also due to a faulty air-conditioning system (See report).

Dr Jalal said the decision to move the scheduled operations to Selayang was a precautionary measure as the repair work may trip up the electrical system and cause a rise in temperature at the operating theatres.

The temperature must be maintained at between 18°C and 20°C, otherwise it might contribute to a higher risk of infection for patients.

“The operation theatre committees of both hospitals held an emergency meeting this afternoon on the matter.

“It is better to have the surgeries done at Selayang Hospital than to face the risk of getting infected.

“All departmental heads at HKL have been alerted to the potential interruptions for the next one week where the temperature may rise for a while,” Dr Jalal told The Star last evening.

“There is yet evidence on the rise in such infections,” he said on claims that such infection rates had gone up by two- to three-fold in the past two months. Infection rates are usually below 5%.

However, a doctor at the HKL operating unit, Dr A.T. Kumararajah, said his colleagues had been sweating it out due to the air-conditioning problem.

A check at an unoccupied theatre showed that the temperature was at 25°C.

During the same visit to the three-theatre complex, a senior nurse was even heard telling a doctor not to bring too many people inside as it was hot.

Dr Kumararajah said the air-conditioning system at the theatres had been faulty for the past six months.

“The heat has become intolerable. There were even occasions when there were flies inside the operation theatre,” he claimed, adding that it had increased the risk of contamination, making surgeries riskier than they should be.

Dr Kumararajah said he had brought up the matter to the hospital’s support services provider, Radicare (M) Sdn Bhd, who informed him that two of the five cooling units were not in working condition.

“They told me that it costs RM200,000 to repair each unit and that they had submitted a proposal to the hospital a few weeks earlier,” he sai

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