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Dirty Surgical Instruments Causing Dangerous Infection!

Updated on March 15, 2012
Think these instruments are clean? Think again!
Think these instruments are clean? Think again!

Dirty Surgical Instruments! They're Everywhere!

Recently NBC News ran a story about the danger of dirty surgical instruments and the story was frightening.

Everyone who enters a hospital to undergo surgery expects that the surgical instruments utilized will be sterile, clean and safe. The problem is that the data proves otherwise.

NBC News partnered with the Center for Public Integrity to produce the story. What they found is that surgical instruments tainted with blood, tissue, and other surgical residue are showing up with regularity.


All surgical instruments are to be sterile and clean. The problem is: They're not!
All surgical instruments are to be sterile and clean. The problem is: They're not!

Dirty Surgical Instruments Are Dangerous!

A man who had rotator cuff surgery, and who later suffered an infection which threatened his life, forced Methodist Hospital, Houston, where the surgery took place, to launch an investigation.

Methodist used small video cameras to ensure that their instruments were clean. They were not. What was found was tissue, etc. which could not be seen by the naked eye. They further determined that some instruments were cleaned by merely running them under tap water, when the manufacturer of those instruments said that they must be cleaned with brushes.

What may be even worse was that investigators found that even clean surgical instruments (per the manufactures' instructions), were found to be dirty.

One reason for dirty surgical instruments is the complexity of the instruments themselves!
One reason for dirty surgical instruments is the complexity of the instruments themselves!

Dirty Surgical Instruments... Why?

Why is this happening? Apparently the reasons are many. One is that the instruments themselves are extremely complicated, small, and difficult to clean. The second reason is the manufacturers' poor testing standards. And the third is the poorly paid and undereducated staff that cleans them, who may be under pressure from doctors and nurses to return the instruments to the operating room as soon as possible.

These findings were presented at an FDA workshop (held on the subject) last year.

NBC News further reported that except for New Jersey, no state requires workers who sterilize surgical instruments, to be trained or certified.

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