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An important aspect of surgery is ensuring that the instruments used are properly sterilized and cleaned. Unsanitary instruments placed inside of a patient’s body are a major cause of infection, injury, and death.
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How Unsanitary Surgical Instruments Can Harm You
Because surgery involves exposing vital organs of the body to the open air, it must be conducted in a sterile environment in order to prevent infection and disease transmission. Surgical tools must be sterilized carefully before they can be used in surgical procedures, and hospitals are legally obligated to provide a safe, clean environment for surgeries to take place.
However, due to staffing shortages at major hospitals and the fast pace of modern medicine, surgical instrument cleaning is often done by low-paid technicians as rapidly as possible. Some of the most common ways that unsanitary surgical instruments end up being used in surgical procedures are:
- Poor guidelines and rules in regards to instrument cleaning
- Failure to follow existing cleaning regulations
- Improperly packaging instruments or reusing instruments that are intended to be used only once
- Reusing instruments that were used in prior surgeries
- Allowing tools to sit for days without cleaning them, allowing the buildup of blood and other fluids
Use of unsanitary surgical instruments can result in serious infections from foreign pathogens and fluids entering the body. Complications from these infections can result in injury or death. Certain types of surgical tools, such as endoscopes, are more likely to be unsanitary due to the complexities involved in their cleaning and use.
For example, in 2015, two patients in North Carolina died as a result of being infected with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a highly resistant strain of bacteria that was spread to them via improperly cleaned endoscopes. Around the same time, two patients died and more than 170 were infected by CRE at the UCLA Medical Center in California, also as a result of unsanitary endoscopes.
Additional outbreaks of CRE and other types of bacteria in U.S. hospitals are believed to be the result of unsanitary surgical instruments.
Unsanitary Surgical Instruments and Medical Malpractice
Injuries or illnesses that result from the use of unsanitary surgical instruments may be a form of medical malpractice. While scientists continue to develop increasingly less-invasive forms of surgery, infection is always a risk when undergoing any type of procedure. Improperly cleaned tools result in unnecessary infections, leading to further injury, illness, and death.
If you suspect that an unsanitary surgical instrument was the cause of your injury, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Since 1984, Schochor, Federico and Staton has recovered more than $1 billion for victims of medical malpractice nationwide. To speak with a lawyer, schedule a free case review.