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Dirty surgical tools a big problem in hospital operating rooms

Mar 12, 2012 | Surgical Errors

People in New York City and beyond would often assume that an operating room is one of the most sanitary places. However, new evidence shows that dirty surgical tools are a major problem in hospitals all over the country.

When people think of a surgical error they typically think of an organ perforation or a surgeon operating on the wrong organ. However, a doctor using dirty surgical tools on patients is a surgical error that has been getting more media attention in recent weeks.

One man went to the hospital for rotator cuff surgery. He assumed he would begin to feel better within a few weeks. Instead, he began experiencing more pain and it was soon discovered that he had been infected by a dirty surgical tool.

Sadly, this does not appear to be an isolated incident. Between 2002 and 2009, more than 10,000 patients became infected after dirty surgical instruments were used on them. Even more shocking, some of the patients contracted HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Some people say the problem stems from the fact that the people cleaning the instruments are not properly trained. In fact, only one state requires workers to be certified. In addition, workers are typically paid minimum wage and are often asked to speed up the process in order to get more people through the operating room.

Additionally, surgical tools are now harder to clean. In the past, tools were made from glass and steal. Today, many tools are made from plastic and tungsten. The tools may appear clean to the naked eye, but may have blood and tissue still stuck on them.

People are often worried about a number of things when they go in for surgery. They should not have to worry about being infected by a dirty surgical tool. However, if someone is harmed because of a dirty surgical tool, they may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: Fox News, "Report: Dirty surgical tools in hospitals putting patients at risk," Feb. 22, 2012