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Keep up to date with the latest news, research and activity in patient safety

High levels of microplastics found in operating theatres

High levels of microplastics have been found in operating theatres by researchers who highlighted the “astoundingly high” amounts of single-use plastic used in modern surgical procedures.

A team from the University of Hull found the amount of microplastics in a cardiothoracic operating theatre was almost three times that found in homes, and said this identifies another route through which the tiny particles can enter the human body, with unknown consequences.

The study, published in the journal Environment International, is the first to examine the prevalence of microplastics in surgical environments.

The team analysed levels in the operating theatre and the anaesthetic room in cardiothoracic surgeries and discovered an average of 5,000 microplastics per metre squared when the theatre was in use.

Jeanette Rotchell, professor of environmental toxicology at the university, said the types of microplastic particles identified relate to common plastic wrapping materials and could also come from blister packs, surgical gowns, hairnets and drapes for patients.

Prof Rotchell said: “Although we know microplastics are in the air in a variety of settings, we can’t yet say what the consequences are or whether microplastics are harmful to health. Researchers have yet to establish this.

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Source: The Independent, 27 January 2023

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Trust underplayed ‘catastrophic’ IT outage

A major London trust has been criticised for ‘underplaying’ the problems caused by a ‘catastrophic’ IT outage, a new report has revealed.

The Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust report also noted one patient suffered “moderate harm” and several others “low” level harm after last July’s incident, which was caused by a combination of a heatwave and ageing infrastructure. 

However, the trust said there was no evidence the “underplaying” of issues was deliberate.

The report identified one incident of “moderate” patient harm, in which a patient was unable to receive a pancreas transplant due to staff being unable to safely monitor critical observations. The patient has since had a successful operation, the trust’s report stated.

Another 20 “low” harm incidents were reported, which included delays in patients receiving their test results and/or medicines, while the report added the trust could not rule out that “further harm events may be identified” amidst an ongoing harm review.

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Source: HSJ, 27 January 2023

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