The dust contamination that forced the postponement of dozens of non emergency operations at Raigmore Hospital could have been prevented, according to an NHS Highland board member.
Robin Creelman, a non-executive member, told a board meeting this week: "I think it is important to understand that when dust crops up somewhere like this it is a systems failure.
"There are lots of proactive measures that can be taken to prevent this happening."
He said it was quite different from last October’s incident when rainwater flooded a Raigmore basement due to a blocked roof drain, knocking computers out of action and forcing the cancellation of operations.
The Raigmore dust incident that started last Friday was being treated as a "significant event" said NHS Highland chief executive Elaine Meade, and it was being reviewed to see what had happened.
It was observed that there was a low level of dust on the floor of theatres requiring the area to be deep cleaned and work carried out to ensure this did not happen again.
This includes securing the area, enhanced cleaning and infection control and senior management implementing changes to current working practices.
Contingency measures were put in place to ensure emergency and urgent surgery continued.
Katherine Sutton, Raigmore’s deputy director of operations, said: "Construction work as part of the theatre upgrade has resulted in an increased level of dust being tracked into the theatre block.
"We are confident that the measures we are putting in place will ensure that we will soon be able to return to normal operating at Raigmore.
"These measures were put in place to ensure that there is no risk to patient safety. I apologise to patients for the inconvenience that this caused and assure them that we plan to re-book their procedures as soon as possible."