Two far north Queensland doctors who spoke out about the handling of Australia’s latest Ebola scare will remain suspended pending a review.
A Queensland hospital is standing by its decision to suspend two doctors who spoke out about the handling of Australia’s latest Ebola scare.
The pair were stood down on full pay after they raised concerns about the case of Red Cross aid worker Sue Ellen Kovack, a Cairns nurse who recently returned from Ebola-affected Sierra Leone.
Two rounds of testing have cleared Ms Kovack of Ebola after she developed a low-grade fever days after returning home last week.
The unnamed doctors spoke to the media about concerns that Ms Kovack had been tested in a section of the Cairns Hospital emergency department rather than in isolation.
The Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation has called for their immediate reinstatement.
One was speaking on behalf of the Medical Staff Association, federation president Dr Tony Sara said.
“It is very appropriate that he raises issues of concern where he believes that they have not necessarily been properly addressed or dealt with by management,” Dr Sara told ABC radio.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has backed the hospital’s decision to suspend the doctors.
“This nurse was treated appropriately in an isolated environment in an isolated room in the emergency department,” he told ABC radio.
“There was certainly misleading information on the weekend and we need to understand why that information was misleading.”
But Premier Campbell Newman says the hospital needs to be more transparent.
“Given that this is a public organisation and public funds are involved, I think it would be good if they were a bit more forthcoming about their decisions and I think they need to be a bit more open about why they’ve made this call.”
The hospital stood by its decision on Tuesday, citing “the unauthorised release of patient information to the media.”
The incident could undermine public confidence in the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, chairman Bob Norman said.
“At a time of heightened worldwide concern about infectious disease, it was critical that clinical information was released in an accurate and timely manner,” he said in a statement.
Mr Norman said there were internal processes available to doctors to raise any concerns about clinical procedures within the hospital.
An independent panel will review the handling of the case, with terms of reference outlined by the department’s chief operations officer Dr Michael Cleary.
It will involve infectious disease and clinical governance experts.