Last update: 06-Dec-2013 8:12 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Fuad: Guards must pay for stolen machine
Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan said yesterday that security at San Fernando General Hospital would be held accountable for the $.5 million ultrasound machine that went missing two weeks ago from the operating theatre on the second floor of the new wing. He said management had a system in place under which the security contractors, once found culpable, would be responsible for paying for the missing device. “If anything goes missing they have to pay for it,” he said in a telephone interview.
He said it was also necessary to find out who stole the machine in the first place. Acting CEO of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), Dr Shivanan Gopeesingh, said Innovative Security Technologies and privately hired security guards manned the hospital. Contacted yesterday, managing director of the security agency, Keith Carrington, said he had no comment, adding that the police would have to investigate.
Gopeesingh confirmed on Monday that the machine had been missing for the last two weeks and an official report had been made to the San Fernando police. Yesterday, Khan said he had a plan in mind to deal with such thefts in future. He said he was looking into implementing radio frequency identification devices (RFID), which are tags with bar codes connected to a networked system, which would track all hospital machinery.
The minister said another possibility is putting the devices on identification badges of members of staff who work in “sensitive areas,” to determine when things leave the compound, through which exit and possibly with whom. Items to be outfitted with the RFID would include pharmaceuticals as well. “In doing so we can track when and where items entered and left the system,” he said.
He said the RFID measure was not in response to the disappearance of the ultrasound machine, as he had been looking into the new technology for some time now. He said, however, that the missing machine has added a sense of urgency to the proposed plan. He said another consideration would be to set up a security camera system along the corridors of the hospital.
Gopeesingh said CCTV cameras were already set up at strategic points in the hospital, but none near the scene of the incident, in the new wing. He added that the back exit of the new wing was also not well lit, and there was no camera there, so if the machine was stolen it was by someone who knew the hospital well.
When asked how a machine of such a considerable size could be moved around without anybody raising an alarm, Gopeesingh said the machine was portable and regularly moved throughout the hospital to access patients. “If you see a medical person moving it around the building, it’s not out of the ordinary,” he said. He added that several medical personnel would have access to the operating theatre, including three shifts of doctors, nurses and attendants.
Khan said instances of disappearing equipment were normal, but this was the first time something so big has gone missing. Gopeesingh, too, said it was not normal for a machine that size to disappear, adding in his 34 years at the hospital this was a first. Even though the machine was portable, Gopeesingh described it as “sizeable” and could not fathom how it could leave the building undetected. He added that it would have taken more than one person to move it, and a pickup truck to transport it, as it could not fit in a car trunk.
He said it could also be possible the machine was still in the hospital building. When asked if tabs were kept on the machine as it was moved about from room to room, Gopeesingh said it was mandatory for personnel to sign a book each time.
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