bc-091028-bc-surgery

Only emergency surgeries continued this week at Kamloops' Royal Inland Hospital due to concerns about contaminated surgical instruments. ((CBC))

Elective surgeries will resume at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday after being cancelled earlier this week when contaminated surgical tools were found in operating rooms.

Surgical instruments that were about to be used in operations and were supposed to be sterilized were found to still have bone fragments and surgical cement on them from previous surgeries.

The contaminated instruments were a bone-saw jig, drill bit and surgical tray that had been brought into the operating room, but weren't used, said Interior Health Authorty CEO Dr. Robert Halpenny.

About 250 elective surgeries were cancelled due to the discovery.

Unions blame funding lack

Part of the reason for the mistake was an over-burdened surgery department, according to a spokeswoman for the Hospital Employees Union.

"There's three sets [of surgical tools] in the department for hip and knee operations, and there might be as many as eight of those kind of surgeries scheduled in a day," said Olive Dempsey. "You can just imagine what kind of pressure that puts on the department to reprocess those surgical sets, and get them back up."

The B.C. Nurses Union agreed.

"They put in funding to increase the number of surgeries but they haven't put in correlating funding to increase support in the sterilization department," said regional union representative Deb Ducharme.

Ducharme said nurses have been noticing the sterilization problems for several months.

Halpenny said Friday that the sterilization unit would be a top funding priority in the next budget year.

With files from The Canadian Press