Sterility is an important concern at medical centers, impacting both patients and medical professionals. For this reason, a Denver medical center affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was recently forced to temporarily halt surgeries due to unhygienic surgical instruments.
On Wednesday, September 24, the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced that they had detected trace mineral deposits on certain surgical tools. The medical center reported that they were resurfacing these instruments and would be rescheduling any procedures that had been affected by the incident. Patients requiring urgent surgical procedures were redirected to other healthcare providers in the area.
In response to the issues with their sterilization problem, a hospital spokesman stated that the medical center has begun using disposable equipment and will resume normal operations as soon as they conduct a reprocessing of the affected instruments. The hospital is also in the process of awarding a contract to a company who will provide mobile cleaning services for tools, as well as evaluating their current cleaning methods. According to container closure testing services, these changes can’t come too soon.
Despite the hospital’s quick action, however, some veterans feel that they have been left in the lurch, especially given the VA’s heavily-publicized history of delays in providing medical care. One patient who wished to remain anonymous told Denver’s ABC 7NEWS that he has been waiting for several months after sustaining an injury in an accident. While his procedure was originally scheduled for September 25, the man says he was told that the surgical unit was temporarily closed and did not know when it would be able to reopen. The patient says he was given a choice: he could reschedule his appointment with the VA medical center when the unit re-opened, or he could visit a civilian hospital. While he chose to make a new appointment with a different medical provider, he says he worries if he made the right choice, especially since civilian hospitals are typically more expensive. From his statement, it seems clear that improper testing and ill-met sterility requirements may have put the lives and comfort of a number of veterans at risk, further complicating a damaged system.