Health care standards questioned

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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Health professionals in Samoa should adhere to stricter sanitation practices.

They should also work to improve on client care procedures to prevent cross contamination between patients and ensure better health care delivery to the public.

This is a plea from a member of the public, who only wants to be identified as Sara, from Safata.

Sara contacted the Samoa Observer to express her concerns about what she described as the “careless conduct of a health professional” who removed a cast from her two-year-old daughter during a follow up after a broken arm.

“I took my two-year-old to take off her cast and to get a new one,” she explained. 

“We were in the room and the nurse had just finished with another client and she used the same scissors as the ones that she had used on the previous client.

“She had not sterilized them before she used it on my daughter, so I asked her, do you have any sterilizing solution to soak those scissors before you use them on my daughter? 

“And she said no. I thought to myself, as a health professional she did not even think to clean the germs of the other man off the tools she was using on my daughter.”

Working in a hair and beauty business, Sara herself has to adhere to strict hygiene practices after each individual client to prevent cross contamination. 

This means using hospital grade solutions to sterilise any tools that touch human skin such as scissors, combs, tweezers and clippers. 

“Once she took off the cast, she didn’t even clean my daughter’s arm of the debris and dirt that had been trapped underneath it,” she said.

 “So I asked her if there was some kind of antibacterial wipe or solution to clean her arm. 

But she pointed me to the tap and I went and cleaned my daughters arm myself with water.

“It made me think that this nurse did not know about patient care, especially when it comes to protecting children from the germs of adults.  

“I work in the beauty industry and we have hospital grade solutions where we soak our tools in between use of different clients, surely the hospitals have them too. 

“And surely the nurses are trained to use them.”

Another member of the public, who did not want to be named, had a bad experience during an x-ray procedure. 

She said while the x-ray Technician knew how to operate the x-ray machine; she did not have an understanding about patient care or identifying patient pathologies or issues. 

This meant that she experienced extreme pain as she was not assisted out of her wheelchair to the x-ray table and was then maneuvered into positions that exasperated the pain even more.

It was not possible to get an official comment from the hospital.

But an official who asked not be named said that within the hospital the majority of the health professionals working there are trying to upskill and formalise their health qualifications in order to improve their patient care services. 

According to the source, there are some hospital technicians that have not been formally trained, but have been trained by experience, which can lead to variations and substandard health services. 

The 2014 Allied Professionals Act dictates that every health professional has to be registered, meet certain standards by international laws and ensure that their current practicing certificates are up to date. 

The Allied Health Professions Council which was renewed last year is charged with ensuring that all practicing health professionals meet the requirements of that law by 2019. 

However, the Council understands that meeting those requirements will take time and are working with hospital managers to make sure that that their health professional staff is taking steps to upskill, retrain and/or formalize their qualifications.  

This was confirmed by the Allied Health Professions Council Chair, Hinauri Leaupepe. 

Until they have received their qualifications, their registrations are being accepted on a provisional basis until they complete their qualifications. 

Sara has been referred to the Allied Health Council whose functions also include investigating complaints relating to the professional conduct of allied health professionals and pre-registered trainees.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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