Unsterilized Medical Equipment Halts Surgeries at Brooke Army Medical Center
Scheduled surgeries have been stopped at Brooke Army Medical Center, one of San Antonio’s largest hospitals. Broke Army Medical Center, known for treating the Army’s health system is famous for its burn ward that has treated hundreds of war-victims. This past weekend, San Antonio Express-News reported that the hospital has closed more than half of its operating rooms after the hospital found improper sterilization of its surgical instruments. Seventy-three cases of improper sterilized instruments cases were reported last month at BAMC, including sixteen incidents which fragments of organic material were discovered on surgical tools such as bone, skin, or blood. Elective surgeries have been cancelled or postponed as a result.
The hospital has not determined whether the dirty instruments have led to infections. Douglas Soderdahl, the hospitals deputy commander for surgical services says the numbers can be “interpreted in different ways” but says there are “no concerning spikes or things going in the wrong direction” in the hospital’s medical care.
Hank Balch, president of the South Texas Association of Sterile Processing Services, says that dirty surgical equipment is more common than one would think. Balch implies that the more complex, minimally invasive robotic instruments which are harder to clean, are partially to blame.
Why Sterilization of Medical Equipment Is So Important
The disinfection of medical devices is vital and will prevent the buildup of bacteria and various disease which place patients at a significant risk for health related complications. Many deadly bacteria can grow on unsterilized medical equipment; and if left unchecked or not disinfected properly, it is highly likely that bacteria will cultivate. If surgical equipment is not properly sterilized, there are chances that the next patient the equipment is used on can be exposed to a disease the previous patient had.
The disinfection of medical devices ensures that many compromising and debilitating diseases, such as AIDS, are prevented. If the blood of a patient comes into contact with another patient, then there is a chance that the other patient can contract AIDS. If those bacteria were to somehow enter a patient’s body, it could kill them rather quickly Unsterilized equipment can also cause an infection which may not appear until much later. When it does, surgery may have to be performed again in order to remove it. This is costly and can cause many life-threatening complications.