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Hong Kong health authorities investigate nurses over disinfection breach

The Department of Health is investigating two nurses from a maternal clinic who failed to use properly disinfected equipment to conduct cervical screenings for a woman.

A department spokesperson said the nurses, from the Yau Ma Tei maternal and child health centre, were suspected of violating infection control guidelines. They have been suspended from engaging in work-related to disinfection and sterilisation activities, and were given extra training and supervision.

The female patient, whose personal information was not disclosed by the department, was not found with any problems after following checkups.

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An initial investigation by the department showed that a nurse falsely placed a speculum, which had been cleansed but not sterilised, in a box for properly disinfected equipment on September 29.

Another nurse, who was responsible for conducting cervical screenings, did not check whether the package of the speculum was labelled as disinfected.

According to standard infection control guidelines, the speculum must be thoroughly cleansed and sterilised after use. A label indicating a completed disinfection procedure would be affixed to the package of the equipment.

The department’s spokesman said disciplinary action would not be ruled out against the two nurses upon a complete investigation.

The department has apologised to the woman and her family, and said the risk of contracting infectious diseases from the speculum was low.