Austin Hospital heart surgery suspended after second machine failure in two weeks



While cardiac surgery was paused at the Austin after the latest incident, patients would continue to receive surgery with other health services.

Safer Care Victoria, the state government’s healthcare quality agency, is reviewing the “adverse patient safety event” at the Austin in late April.

It said it had been notified of an incident involving a cardiopulmonary bypass machine at the Austin on Friday, May 17.

“The incident is not considered a sentinel event,” it said.

Safer Care Victoria is working with Austin Health to ensure the appropriate level of reviews are conducted regarding the latest event.

The device involved in the first operation was not in clinical use during the latest incident. Both faulty devices have been identified and will not be used in future surgeries at the Austin.

Australian Medical Association Victoria president Dr Jill Tomlinson said equipment faults or malfunction could cause serious harm.

“As everyone would expect, it is vital that medical equipment is reliable and well maintained,” Tomlinson said.

“AMA Victoria is very concerned that the cause of the failures at the Austin Hospital are investigated and identified as soon as possible so that action can be taken to safeguard their ongoing reliability and protect patient safety.”

In 2019, the Austin Hospital cancelled more than 500 surgeries due to the malfunction of surgical washers.


A Safer Care Victoria review into the 2019 equipment malfunction made 20 recommendations to help Austin Health improve its systems and processes and manage future critical incidents.

Austin Health welcomed the review findings and apologised to those affected by the elective surgery cancellations.

Chief executive Adam Horsburgh said in a statement issued after the Safer Care Victoria review that a problem with the washers resulted in small specks of black rubber sticking to surgical equipment after it had been washed.

“Importantly, an independent medical and scientific assessment of the rubber found that was very unlikely to cause harm to patients,” Horsburgh said in the statement.

“I also want to assure the community that Austin Health is a safe and reliable health service, and we remain committed to continuous improvement for the benefit of our patients.”

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