PHLN Guidance and Survey regarding Mycobacterium chimaera & heater-cooler units

The guidance is based on the protocol published by Public Health England (PHE) and is supplemented with laboratory experiences documented in the associated PHLN Survey of Australian laboratories handling HCU specimens.

Page last updated: 02 December 2016

The following guidance document aims to present a rational and pragmatic approach for laboratory investigations in the prevention and control of Heater-Cooler Unit (HCU)-related infections. The guidance is based on the protocol published by Public Health England (PHE) and is supplemented with laboratory experiences documented in the associated PHLN Survey of Australian laboratories handling HCU specimens.

The PHLN survey was conducted with eleven laboratories, including all five Mycobacterium Reference Laboratories. Cumulatively, respondents have been involved in the testing of >65 Sorin-3T heater-cooler units (HCUs). Of those sites giving full details, 17 (73%, 95% CI 55%-91%) of 23 machines were culture positive.

Laboratories and healthcare professionals are also referred to any directives from the HCU manufacturers and to the two advisories by The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the infection control guidance document by the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC). Links to these documents can be found in the guidance document index.

PHLN will continue to update these documents as more testing is undertaken and data from national and international sources is assessed.