Legionella Update: Patient Safety is the Priority at Queen's


Queen’s Initiates Precautionary Measures for At-Risk Patients

The Queen’s Medical Center is working closely with the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify sources of Legionella exposure within and outside of the hospital. Patient safety is the highest priority at Queen’s, and we have implemented a number of measures to safeguard the health and well-being of everyone on our Punchbowl campus.

The following FAQs include steps we have taken to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff:

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by breathing in small droplets of water that contain the Legionella bacteria.

Should I be concerned about the disease?

Queen’s water is safe to drink for anyone with a healthy immune system. Legionella are spread through water that has been aerosolized (i.e., water that has become airborne through spraying, misting, splashing, etc.). It is not readily transmissible from person to person and most exposed to the bacteria do not become ill.

What steps will be taken to ensure my safety while I am a patient at Queen’s?

Legionnaires' disease is most likely to occur in people who have weakened immune systems such as transplant patients, patients with severe chronic lung disease and patients on chemotherapy.

For those patients at greatest risk, Queen’s is proactively asking all health care providers to take additional precautions. We are recommending that high-risk patients avoid exposure to tap water, in any form, while at Queen’s.

Individuals at greatest risk are:
  • Patients on chemotherapy
  • Patients with neutropenia
  • Patients with lymphocytopenia
  • Transplant patients
  • Patients with severe chronic lung disease
  • Patients with AIDS with uncontrolled viral load
  • Patients with hematologic malignancy
  • Patients on high-dose steroids or other drugs that impair cell-mediated immunity
What if I am in the high-risk category?

If your physician and nursing staff decide extra precautions are necessary for you while receiving care at Queen’s, for now we will eliminate your exposure to tap water and will provide these alternatives:

  • Bottled water will be provided for drinking, teeth brushing, wound care and sinus rinses or contact lens cleaning. Ice from ice machines should not be consumed
  • Bathing kits will be used instead of showering (if you are staying in the hospital)
  • Toilet flushing will be done by nurses and nurse aides instead of patients
What additional steps has Queen’s taken to help ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff?

We have initiated a number of measures, including:

  • Increased chlorination of water
  • Increased surveillance water cultures and testing in conjunction with DOH and water experts
  • Replacement of laminar flow devices on faucets
  • Scheduled running of showers and faucets as part of routine room cleaning
  • Limiting the use of ice from ice machines in patient care areas for ice packs and lab specimens. Ice is not for consumption

We appreciate your support and cooperation as we ensure the safety and well-being of our patients, visitors and staff, and continue to provide the highest quality of care.

For more information, call Queen's Legionella Information Line at 808-691-8222.

About Legionnaire's Disease from CDC

June 19: The Queen's Medical Center and Hawaii State Dept. of Health Report Suspected Legionella Cases

June 22: Queen's Doctor Separates Facts from Fiction About Legionnaires' Disease


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