Firm-Wide blog

Sterilization Breaches Put Patient Lives at Risk

By Burg Simpson
August 20, 2018
3 min read

Odds are, if you are at the doctor’s office or the waiting room at the dentist, it is because you do not feel well. You are there because you want to feel better, and you have faith that these trained professionals can help with that.

So, it can be particularly devastating when these places of healing end up making people even sicker. But healthcare-associated infections, also known as HCAIs, remain an all-too-common risk. HCAIs include any infection someone contracts at a medical facility – most of which are completely preventable. HCAIs are a leading cause of patient mortality and add millions of dollars to health care costs every year. In fact, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, “At any one time in the United States, one out of every 25 hospitalized patients are affected by an HAI.”

Some of the most common healthcare-associated infections include:

  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
  • Surgical site infections
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Clostridium difficile

If you or a loved one has contracted an infection during a hospital stay or dental visit, you could be eligible for compensation. An accident attorney can help.

Wheat Ridge Regional Shut Down

Sometimes a lapse in protocol – like a sterilization breach – can threaten patient safety and temporarily put a halt to all surgical procedures. That is what happened at Wheat Ridge Regional Center last week. The breach was so extensive, in fact, that the Colorado Department of Human Services postponed all medical and dental procedures at Wheat Ridge Regional Center after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment uncovered a sterilization breach.

Despite the lack of reported infections, Colorado officials advised at least 200 patients who have been through a procedure at Wheat Ridge Regional since January 2015 to get tested for hepatitis B and C, and HIV. According to Denver7, the hospital will pay for all tests.

Officials detected the breach during an infection control inspection when it found the instrument sterilization process might have been performed inadequately for at least three years.

This is Not the First Time

This is the second breach in the Denver area this year. In April, Porter Adventist Hospital’s chief medical officer and Centura Health’s senior vice president revealed a problem with the first step of a surgery equipment sterilization process that potentially put 5,800 patients at risk of infection of HIV as well as Hepatitis B and C.

Some of the most common sterilization mistakes include:

  • Simply not cleaning the instruments properly, typically because of inadequate training.
  • Flashing – This immediate-use steam sterilization method disinfects an instrument by steam in the quickest time frame possible.
  • Putting the wrong instrument in the tray.
  • Failing to follow recommended or established maintenance protocols.
  • Single use instruments being used multiple times.

If you have contracted an infection during a hospital stay, you need to get the help you deserve. Call the Denver office of Burg Simpson today at 303-792-5595 and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney or fill out our Free Case Evaluation Form.

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