A century ago, there was little information available about the importance of properly sanitizing medical equipment. As a result, medical equipment was not properly cleaned and hands were not always washed. Thankfully, medical professionals in North Carolina and across the country are aware of this important safeguard to patient health. However, in a northwestern state, one hospital’s failure to properly train its technicians on how to properly clean medical equipment could ultimately lead to health problems for over a hundred former patients.
The issue came to light in Nov. 2013. Just before a scheduled colonoscopy was performed, technicians discovered what has been described as organic matter on equipment that was to be used during a procedure. An investigation discovered that technicians had been improperly cleaning the equipment since July 2011. The incorrect sanitation technique was allegedly due to improper training.
Due to the discovery, just over 100 patients have been put at risk for infection. They have all been asked to return to be tested for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C as well as HIV. Officials at the Seattle Children’s Hospital report that no one has tested positive at this time, but not all affected patients have been tested.
Improperly sanitized medical equipment can have serious consequences for patients. For the patients at risk in this case, positive test results could have long-term implications on their medical treatment and overall health. Anyone in a situation such as this who feels his or her health problems are the result of negligence of medical professionals has the option of seeking legal recourse in a North Carolina civil court. If the patient’s claims can be proven to the court, he or she could be awarded compensation for expenses created by the alleged medical malpractice.
Source: ABC News, Dirty Instruments Lead to Investigation of Seattle Hospital, Gillian Mohney, Jan. 23, 2014