A TODAY investigation of unsterile surgical instruments causing infection and other health concerns has revealed that the problem is not uncommon but is not reported because the FDA doesn’t require it.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, “Filthy, dangerous medical implements have been showing up in hospitals and outpatient surgery centers with alarming regularity. In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs admitted that 10,737 veterans in Florida, Tennessee and Georgia were given endoscopies or colonoscopies between 2002 and 2009 with endoscopes that may have been improperly cleaned. Some of those patients later tested positive for HIV, hepatitis C, or hepatitis B. Several lawsuits filed against the VA by veterans are currently working their way through the courts, and attorneys expect many others to follow. Investigation of a 2008 hepatitis C outbreak that sickened at least six people in Las Vegas revealed that an outpatient surgery center was improperly cleaning endoscopes and reusing biopsy forceps designed for a single use. Following that outbreak, a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pilot program inspected 1500 outpatient surgery centers and cited 28 percent for infection control deficiencies related to equipment cleaning and sterilization.”
This is a significant public health concern that can’t truly be addressed until reporting becomes mandatory. Currently, the only state in the Union that mandates such reporting is New Jersey.
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