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Indiana Hospital: Sterilization Issue Put 1,200 Patients at Risk of Infection


November 27, 2019

Patients who underwent surgery at Goshen (Indiana) Hospital between April 1 and September 30 may have been exposed to dangerous diseases after a breakdown in the facility’s surgical instrument sterilization process.

The Goshen News reported this week that the hospital sent a letter to affected patients earlier this month, announcing that one of the hospital’s seven surgical instrument sterilization technicians failed to complete one of the steps required in the sterilization process with certain instruments. This potentially exposed surgical patients to a variety of infections, including hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV.

“The surgical instruments in question were still treated with our usual chemical disinfection and machine sterilization processes which include a wide margin of safety; however, such instruments may or may not have been completely sterile,” according to the letter, which was quoted by the paper. “While we believe the risk is extremely low, out of the utmost caution, we want to notify you that it is possible that this action may have exposed you to infections. To be very conservative, we want to offer patients free lab testing services to verify the absence or presence of any of these viruses.”

A hospital official told the newspaper that a total of 1,182 surgical patients may have been exposed to disease, but did not say whether any have tested positive for any diseases.

Goshen Hospital Chief Operating Officer Daniel Nafziger told the paper that the hospital took quick action to address the issue.

“As with any patient safety concern, we rigorously investigated all aspects around the incident,” Nafziger said. “We have put strict policies and additional safety measures in place to ensure it does not happen again. We also want to express our concern for each of these patients.”

See the rest of today's Hospital Safety Insider stories here.

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