It has become increasingly evident that inadequate sterilization at Porter Adventist may have exposed patients to Hepatitis and HIV. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (“CDPHE”) is investigating “a significant health breach” at Porter Adventist. Patients who underwent orthopedic or spine surgery at Porter Adventist between July, 2016, and April, 2018, may have been exposed to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, and other bacterial and viral infections.
Inadequate Sterilization at Porter Adventist
The investigation comes after Porter Adventist found surgical instruments used for orthopedic and spine surgeries were not cleaned properly. The issue involved the process of manually cleaning debris from instruments following surgery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sterilization destroys microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi) on the surfaces of instruments that come in contact with body tissues and fluids. It is critical to properly sterilize surgical instruments to prevent infection and the transmission of diseases from patient to patient. The importance of proper cleaning cannot be overemphasized as organic material, soil, and debris can block the sterilizing agent from making complete contact with the surface of an instrument.
According to a statement by Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director of CDPHE, “[t]he process for cleaning surgical instruments following orthopedic and spine surgeries was found to be inadequate, which may have compromised the sterilization of the instruments.” The process is like rinsing off a plate before it is placed in the dishwater. If food is stuck on the plate, it will not be fully cleaned during the wash cycle.
Porter Adventist Responds to Breach
The instruments in question were put out of use and reprocessed on February 20, 2018. In an abundance of caution, Porter Adventist mailed letters to patients who may have been affected by the breach. Porter Adventist shared information about infections and offered potential victims the opportunity to be tested for free with LapCorp. The hospital voluntarily closed its operating rooms on April 5, 2018.
While the CDPHE is not aware of any patient infections related to the breach, a disease control investigation remains ongoing. According to the Denver Post, Porter Adventist is “one of [Colorado’s] busiest hospitals for orthopedic surgeries.” Since the breach, neither the hospital nor the CDPHE has released the number of surgeries for the period in question. The hospital resumed surgeries on a limited schedule on April 12, 2018, after instituting a number of recommended changes.
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer
The prospect of undergoing surgery is frightening. It should not be made worse by concerns of negligence by hospitals. Yet, as demonstrated in the recent events at Porter Adventist, routine surgeries can turn into an even worse situation if a hospital neglects the most basic element of hospital safety, the use of sterile surgical instruments. Patients who underwent orthopedic or spinal surgery between July, 2016, and April, 2018, may have been exposed to Hepatis B, Hepatis C, HIV, and other bacterial and viral infections. Moreover, the risk could also threaten loved ones. Porter Adventist may be responsible for the consequences of their breach.
The Denver personal injury lawyers at Bowman & Chamberlain, LLC, urges anyone who underwent orthopedic or spinal surgeries at Porter Adventist from July, 2016, through April, 2018, to get tested for infectious diseases. If you have been injured due to the inadequate sterilization at Porter Adventist, we urge you to contact the Denver personal injury lawyers at Bowman & Chamberlain, LLC, at 720-863-6904. Our firm is actively investigating these cases and would be happy to discuss legal recourse if you have been infected