Saskatchewan

Sask. Health Authority notifies 13 surgical patients of improperly sterilized tools

Thirteen people have been notified they may have been exposed to improperly sterilized instruments at Saskatoon City Hospital, increasing the risk of post-surgical infection.

3 of the 13 patients were exposed to the instruments on surgeries that took place on Feb. 1 and 4

Three surgical patients at Saskatoon City Hospital were exposed to surgical instruments that were not properly and fully sterilized, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority. (Shutterstock)

Thirteen people have been notified they may have been exposed to improperly sterilized instruments at Saskatoon City Hospital, increasing the risk of post-surgical infection.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said instruments used in surgery did not go through a final step of steam sterilization. Those instruments were used in surgeries that took place at the hospital on Friday, Feb. 1 and Monday, Feb. 4.

Three people were exposed to these instruments. Since the Saskatchewan Health Authority was not able to narrow down who these three patients were, they notified all 13 patients who may have been at risk in those two days.

"The likelihood is that it exposed them to nothing," said Paul Babyn, SHA's physician executor for provincial programs. "However, there may be a number of slower growing organisms that have spores like fungi or certain types of bacteria. It's not clear."

Paul Babyn with the Saskatchewan Health Authority talks to reporters about the improper sterilization of instruments used at Saskatoon City Hospital. (CBC News)

While the final step of sterilization was missed, the instruments were cleaned through the washer-disinfector cycle. 

"We do know that the steps that the instruments went through kill the all the blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis. So there's no need for any additional blood work at this time," said Babyn.

A nurse flagged the issue, after noticing the colour indicator used for the equipment had not changed colour as it should have done, to show the equipment was fully sterilized. 

"At that time, the sterilization area was notified and they did an immediate recall and evaluated all the instruments that were being used in the operating room," he said. 

The health authority said it would be conducting an internal quality review to look into what happened, to prevent it from occurring again.

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