The New South Wales Opposition is calling for an independent investigation into the reported unapproved use of antibiotics at Royal North Shore Hospital after concerns it may increase the risk of the spread of superbugs.
More than 38,000 doses of restricted antibiotics have been prescribed by doctors at the hospital without approval, Fairfax Media is reporting, citing documents it obtained.
The documents allegedly show thousands of doses were given to patients without approval between January and May last year.
A spokesman for NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the Minister was unaware of the matter and would not comment, and directed inquiries to the Royal North Shore Hospital.
NSW Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said procedures at the hospital needed to be examined independently.
“And the Minister, she says she doesn’t know. Why did she not know?” he added.
Any over-prescription of antibiotics risks the development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Antibiotic resistance, which aids the creation of superbugs, has been identified by the World Health Organisation as one of the biggest current threats to human health.
‘Culture of cover-up in the health system’
Mr Secord said the matter was the latest in a string of incidents in the NSW health system that had been covered up, including the under-dosing of chemotherapy patients at three Sydney hospitals.
“There’s a culture of cover-up in the health system, major issues happen and we don’t find out about until several years later,” Mr Secord said.
“It is time the Premier got a new health minister, a health minister that is active and involved in her portfolio.”
In a statement, the hospital said it was a strong performer when it came to the appropriate use of antibiotics.
“Royal North Shore Hospital performs very well in appropriate use of antibiotics according to the national benchmarks under the National Antibiotic Utilisation Surveillance Program,” the statement said.
“The Hospital’s Antimicrobial Stewardship program was also awarded a Met with Merit rating and a surveyor commendation following a rigorous National Safety and Quality HealthCare Standards accreditation survey in November 2015.”