Queensland now has some of the most stringent water risk management requirements for hospitals and residential aged care facilities in Australia.
Legionella bacteria often become established in manufactured water systems such as cooling towers and hot water systems where warm temperatures, increased nutrients and growth of biofilms in pipework provide an ideal breeding ground.
The Public Health Act 2005 (the Act) has been recently amended to improve the management and control of water-related hazards in healthcare facilities.
What is Legionella?
The Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaire’s disease which is a type of pneumonia. Legionella can be transmitted by inhaling contaminated droplets (aerosols) from warm or hot water systems such as showerheads, spas and fountains. These aerosols and splashes can also be ingested from hand washing stations, sinks, toilets and even inhaled by sucking on ice blocks, a technique used to assist in the hydration of elderly patients.
Who can catch Legionella?
Most people are at a low risk of catching the legionnaires disease however people with weak immune systems are much more susceptible (e.g. hospital patients and the elderly). Legionella outbreaks have been reported throughout various major Queensland hospitals and as a result Queensland Health intends to introduce legislation. This will require all hospitals and aged care facilities to conduct quarterly monitoring for legionella with results made public.
Overview of the New Legionella Reporting Requirements
Who does this concern?
These requirements extend to:
- Queensland Health hospitals with inpatients
- Queensland Health operated residential aged care facilities
- Licensed private health facilities
The requirements will be extended to the private residential aged care sector at a later date, following consultation with the sector.
What are the new requirements?
- Develop a water risk management plan,
- Ensure water risk management plans are complied with,
- Notify the chief executive of the Department of Health, within 1 business day, when it is confirmed that Legionella has been detected in water used by a prescribed facility,
- Submit periodic reports summarising the results of Legionella tests for a prescribed facility.
One simple way to ensure that you comply with your water risk management plan is employing the services of an accredited analytical laboratory.
How can Symbio Laboratories help you meet your Legionella reporting requirements?
Queensland Health requires laboratories to be NATA accredited for the analysis of legionella according to AS/NZS 3896:1998.
Symbio Laboratories not only holds this accreditation, but is also NATA accredited for the analysis of Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC), a measure of total bacterial numbers that provides an indication on the efficiency of the disinfection system.
If required, Symbio can provide NATA accredited field technicians who are experienced in collecting samples from hospitals and aged care facilities as well as conducting field tests such as chlorine, turbidity and temperature.
Symbio assists hospitals and aged care staff who collect their own samples. Upon request, we deliver sample bottles, eskies, ice bricks, analysis request forms and freight consignment notes free of charge to ensure samples are returned to our laboratory within the allocated holding time for sample analysis.
Why Choose Symbio?
Our customer service specialists are more than your typical call centre team.
Qualified and experienced in assisting clients from a range of industries, our expert team is ready to help with your enquiries leading up to, during, and after your testing, to make sure you’re given everything you need to meet regulatory requirements.
Our continued investment in technology and innovation allows us to provide the highest quality testing and analysis effectively and efficiently, resulting in lower prices for our customers.
Your Results in Real-Time
Receive real-time access to results online, download data, and have your results when you need them with Symbio Laboratories’ eResults portal.
We Make Testing Simple and Convenient
Symbio Laboratories can provide a courier service when required, as well as pick up samples.
Symbio supply sample bottles, eskies, ice bricks, analysis request forms and freight consignment notes to ensure samples are returned to our laboratory within the allocated holding time for sample analysis.
Speed without Compromise
Faster turnaround time with preliminary reporting available on day 4 of potential positive.
Symbio Laboratories is NATA accredited for the analysis of Legionella according to AS/NZS 3896:1998, as well as the analysis of Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC), a measure of total bacterial numbers that provides an indication on the efficiency of your disinfection system.
Sample Collection Support
Experienced Symbio Laboratories field technicians familiar with sampling points are also suitably qualified and trained to collect representative samples and conduct field tests for chlorine, turbidity and temperature.
Always Ready to Meet Your Needs
Our experienced microbiology team is able to manage large volumes over a seven-day operation, including evening shifts.
This results in faster turnaround times, and your results delivered sooner.
Commitment to Lead
Symbio Laboratories has now developed low-level Legionella testing based on ISO 11731-2, and is able to provide a limit of detection up to 1cfu/100mL (* NATA accreditation pending).