Thursday, May 16, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Mackay Medical Provider Suspended For Substandard Testing Of Coal Miners  

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) has suspended Harbour Road Medical in Mackay for six months due to substandard spirometry testing, affecting 135 coal mine workers. RSHQ's Director of Health Strategy and Compliance, Patrick Jensen, emphasised the importance of maintaining high-quality medical screening to protect workers' health and safety, especially in light of past incidents like the re-identification of black lung disease in Queensland in 2015.

The state's resources regulator, Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ), has sent a strong message to medical providers about putting the health of coal mine workers at risk through substandard medical screening.  

As part of a RSHQ campaign aimed at ensuring spirometry testing quality, Harbour Road Medical in Mackay has been suspended for six months following an audit of their lung function tests.

The audit revealed 30 per cent of the provider's spirometry tests were unacceptable and did not meet minimum quality standards, with 135 workers impacted by the poor testing.
The RSHQ audit found the spirometry practice failed to conduct the tests effectively, identify issues in the test results, maintain accurate comments which led to incorrect test interpretation and repeat tests multiple times to the same level as required.  
RSHQ's Director of Health Strategy and Compliance Patrick Jensen said the process had begun to contact all coal mine workers impacted by the audit findings, as well as the workers’ employers and doctors.

"We’re recommending all those affected workers undertake repeat spirometry tests,” said Mr Jensen.

“While we always work with medical providers to improve screening quality through education and advice, we don’t shy away from taking appropriate regulatory action where necessary to protect workers’ health and safety.” 
The operation of ResHealth, the mandatory digital system for the completion of health assessments, assisted in ensuring the quality of medical examinations. 
“ResHealth provides a centralised point for health assessment records, which has made the analysis of disease data easier and better allows us to conduct timely assessments of medical screening,” said Mr Jensen.

Mr Jensen said that RSHQ is undertaking a campaign to ensure spirometry testing is of a high standard.
“As part of the campaign we’ve ordered more than 5,000 spirometry tests across 100 practices in the last 12 months,” he said.
"The re-identification of black lung disease in Queensland in 2015 highlighted the importance of ensuring medical screening is of a high standard and the consequences when this isn’t the case.”
Harbour Road Medical was contacted for comment, however the organisation did not respond.

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