Surgical instruments meant to be tools for healing in the hands of skilled surgeons are increasingly becoming instruments of sickness and even death in our nation’s hospitals. According to NBC News, hospitals nationwide have revealed that the use of dirty surgical instruments have led to outbreaks of potentially lethal infections.
NBC cited an incident at a Houston, Texas hospital in 2009 where operating rooms were closed for two weeks while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated a rash of six potentially fatal post-operation infections that happened within a small time frame. The culprit? Arthroscopic shavers and drainage tubes that weren’t completely sterilized of bacteria, blood, and organic matter.
According to Joe Eaton, an investigative reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, the reasons for the growing problem are varied. He states that some of the polymers used in newer high-tech devices will melt if heat-sterilized in the traditional way that glass and metal instruments are and must be cleaned by hand. They then are sent to a hospital basement and cleaned in some cases by, “poorly paid and poorly trained technicians whose last job might have been at Burger King.”
He also points out that manufacturer designs of some surgical instruments make complete cleaning virtually impossible and suggests that hospitals need to be more tightly regulated to ensure that devices are clean before surgery.
Currently, only 25 states have requirements that hospitals report surgical infections. Florida was one of the first states to adopt mandatory hospital-acquired infection reporting. Some 90,000 people die of hospital-acquired infections every year and studies have suggested that up to 75% of them could be prevented.
This report is truly frightening because surgery related infections are avoidable if proper care is taken to clean instruments. If you or a family member has been injured as a result of a surgery-related infection caused by medical negligence, the Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Farah & Farah would like to speak to you. Call us at (800) 533-3555 for a free and confidential assessment of your case.