About 600 Middlemore patients will be tested after a person admitted to a ward was found to be carrying an organism resistant to a powerful group of antibiotics.
Counties Manukau Health said about 200 haematology day stay patients may have come into indirect contact with the patient between March 6 and July 5.
The patient was identified as carrying the multi-drug resistant organism when he was admitted to a ward at Middlemore Hospital recently. The particular organism the patient had makes people resistant to carbapenems, a powerful group of antibiotics often relied on for infections when treatment with other antibiotics are ineffective.
Infectious diseases consultant David Holland said they were taking a "pragmatic" approach and contacting all 200 people who attended the day stay clinic to talk to them about the issue and arrange tests.
"While there is only a very small risk that they may have acquired this organism, we are taking a precautionary approach to ensure that those who may have come into contact with the patient are checked and we can rule out any possibility that they have carbapenem-resistant organism," Holland said.
"The screening involves a simple procedure where we will take a rectal swab. We will have the results from the test within a few days but it will take some time to collate all of the results and advise everyone."
Another 400 patients who also attended the day stay during the same period but not necessarily on the same day as the infected patient would also be contacted and screened.
Holland said the finding of this organism did not raise concerns for most patients or the visiting public.
"Patient safety is paramount and that is why we are taking the extra step of informing and screening to ensure that the organism is contained and managed."
Haematology day patients who want to talk to a nurse about CRO can contact the Healthline on 0800 611 116.
What are carbapenem-resistant organisms?
They are bacteria in the bowel that can cause infections and are no longer treatable with certain antibiotics. There are very few antibiotics which can treat infections with carbapenem-resistant organisms and in extreme cases no antibiotics are effective.
They are common in many overseas countries but rare in New Zealand.
How do people get carbapenem-resistant organisms?
Widespread use of antibiotics has caused the development of resistant bacteria such as carbapenem-resistant organisms. It can spread between people through direct contact with each other or by touching items or surfaces that the carrier may have touched such as bed rails, toilets or equipment. New isolates of the bacteria are usually associated with overseas travel.
What is the risk associated with carbapenem-resistant organisms?
People who have acquired it usually just "carry" it in their gut and suffer no consequences. However, if these people develop an infection for some reason then the carbapenem-resistant organisms may be involved. The main risk is to vulnerable patients while they are in hospital.