Transparent approach to reporting superbug cases

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 3:19am

Regarding the report, "Doctor slams slow reaction to superbug outbreak" (August 26), I would like to assure your readers that public hospitals have a well-established reporting mechanism made specifically for vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) cases.

While it is true that statistics revealed a surge in the prevalence of VRE in public hospitals, this will by no means undermine the commitment nor the effectiveness of our infection control measures to cope with the increased workload.

We are also more determined than ever to solidify a transparent and accountable approach in regard to the reporting of VRE cases through the current protocol.

Let me explain our protocol. Should an outbreak be identified, a hospital outbreak control team meeting will be immediately held.

Colleagues from the Centre for Health Protection will join in to assist in reviewing the adequacy of infection control measures and identify any gap for improvement.

Hospitals should then proceed to delivering VRE isolates to the public health laboratory service branch of the centre for genotyping.

Statistics concerning the VRE isolates will be quickly made available to the public and updated monthly on the centre's website.

Keeping the public informed of hospital outbreak situations has always been and will definitely remain our priority. Since January, the Hospital Authority has issued close to 90 press releases in relation to VRE cases.

Among them, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Kowloon Central Cluster consisted of 16 such releases while other hospitals made up the remaining 72.

It should be noted that all cases in outbreaks of VRE have been made public information; none of them have remained unreleased.

Constant vigilance and persistent reminders, especially for our frontline colleagues, are reinforced. Our long-term goal is to tackle VRE head-on and the latest initiative is to start a screening for all inpatients in Queen Elizabeth Hospital which aims to fully unearth the scale of the issue and steer us towards a more mature control strategy.

Dr Dominic Tsang, chief infection control officer, Hospital Authority