Nfld. & Labrador

Cost of Eastern Health surgery cancellations rises to $2.7 million

Nearly three weeks after Eastern Health postponed hundreds of elective surgeries due to sterilization issues, surgery cancellations are still ongoing, and the cost of fixing the problem is rising.

41 more surgeries have been cancelled this week due to stained equipment

Eastern Health CEO David Diamond says his organization is doing everything they can to ensure the problem with stained surgical equipment is fixed as soon as possible. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Nearly three weeks after Eastern Health postponed hundreds of elective surgeries due to sterilization issues, surgery cancellations are still ongoing, and the cost of fixing the problem is rising. 

Eastern Health officials announced Thursday that the total costs of addressing the situation have risen to $2.7 million dollars. 

Surgical teams noticed stains on kits in operating rooms in mid-February, triggering a series of cancellations and rescheduled procedures. 

"We are still doing elective surgery, the vast majority of cases are being done, but it's not without major disruption," said Eastern Health CEO David Diamond. 

Diamond said the cost of ordering and repairing surgical instruments, transportation, and overtime pay has caused that number to grow.

It's unclear how much of the $2.7 million will be covered by insurance, but Diamond said that $1.3 million in contingency funds will be used to pay for part of the costs.​

From Monday to Thursday this week, Diamond said at least 41 surgeries have been postponed.

"We continue to cancel some surgeries...we're not in the business-as-usual circumstance," Diamond said. 

Doing everything they can

Diamond said the surgical equipment that is causing the delayed surgeries comes predominantly from the orthopedic, gynaecologic and pediatric areas.

He said there is promising growth in removing the problem at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital in St. John's, but that there are still instances of staining and black residue being found on surgical instruments at the Health Sciences Centre. 

The staining and black residue are even being found on tools that have already been sent to Toronto for sterilization, and Diamond said officials still can't explain what's happening.

While Diamond empathizes with families that have had to deal with surgery cancellations, he said that Eastern Health is doing its best to ensure the problem is fixed as soon as possible. 

"Be assured that we are doing everything we possibly can on the sterilization side to fix this, and everything we possibly can do in the run of the next few days to get elective surgeries completed."  

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