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Canadian Hospital Sued Over Improperly Cleaned Retractor

147 bariatric patients may have been exposed to bioburden on retractor.

Published: July 31, 2014

Two bariatric surgery patients are suing a Montreal hospital following its admission that a surgical instrument used in their cases hadn't been properly cleaned.

Earlier this year, Lachine Hospital, part of the McGill University Health Centre network, advised 147 patients who'd undergone bariatric procedures since 2012 to be tested for bloodborne diseases after OR techs noticed bioburden in the joint of a liver retractor.

A hospital infection preventionist has attributed the oversight to improper handling in the decontamination and cleaning process, during which instrument disassembly was necessary. "We were dismantling it, but not completely," he said. "As soon as we realized that, the next day we changed the procedure." The instrument had been sterilized after each case, he said.

In a statement posted online, the hospital notes that 89% of the contacted patients have been blood-tested, with no reports of infection. Additionally, "all necessary corrective measures were implemented in the spring to ensure the complete cleaning of the instrument in question."

The two women who filed the class action lawsuit reportedly tested negative for infection, but cite the hospital's negligence for emotional damages and the burden of undergoing testing. Their suit is awaiting a judge's approval to proceed.

Hospital representatives were not immediately available for comment.

David Bernard

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